House debates

Thursday, 15 December 2022


Arnold, Constable Matthew, Dare, Mr Alan, McCrow, Constable Rachel

12:45 pm

Photo of Shayne NeumannShayne Neumann (Blair, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Most Australians from a young age are familiar with the police, from Adopt-A-Cop in our schools, to Anzac Day services and parades, Neighbourhood Watch and Crime Stoppers. They see their local police officers, clubs and associations at their fetes, festivals and faith based groups. They are respected. They're not a force but a service, and with honour they serve. Australians in regional areas are used to young constables being transferred to their communities. The community embraces them. The local community becomes their community. Tara is like so many country Queensland towns which service remote and even more remote areas like Wieambilla.

For all Australians, but even more so for regional Queenslanders, decentralisation means that the bonds of friendship and feeling are more intense. The recent events are shocking, incomprehensible—a monstrosity, a barbarity beyond any form of sane understanding. Four young police officers were doing what they were expected to do and what they were trained to do, to follow up a missing persons report—to be ambushed and executed in cold blood is beyond words. This was senseless slaughter. A neighbour was doing what any good neighbour does, seeing if he could help—a good Samaritan act—and yet he was gunned down without mercy. Our hearts, deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the grieving family and friends of the two brave police officers slain: Constable Matthew Arnold, 26 years of age; and Constable Rachel McCrow, 29 years of age—younger than my daughters, lives cut down short.

I pay tribute to those police officers for their service, and I grieve for their families. I pay tribute to the serving police officers, Constable Randall Kirk and Constable Keely Brough. How they'll ever get their lives back is beyond belief. Their lives will never be the same. I pay tribute to Alan Dare, whose neighbourly instinct led him to try to help, and he, tragically, was murdered. I pay tribute to the specially trained tactical police officers who showed immense courage and yet terminated the lives of the murderous trio. They risked their lives, and the bullet holes in the armoured police vehicle show that it was under a tremendous hail of bullets that they retrieved the bodies of their comrades slain.

Bridges in Brisbane's central are coloured in the blue and white of the Queensland Police Service. The sight of those colours on a uniform of an officer of the Queensland police during cyclones, bushfires and floods is always comforting to Queenslanders, particularly regional Queenslanders. Flowers and tributes, from Tara to Brisbane and around Australia, have been laid at police stations and elsewhere—outpourings of sympathy and grief. In November 2018, I joined so many at the official opening of the new Queensland Police Memorial located in Brisbane's City botanic gardens, a place of reflection for family members, colleagues and the community to honour and pay their respects to fallen Queensland Police Service members, the first of whom was killed back in 1861—over 150 since then. Very sadly, the names of the fallen from the Tara station will be added, by necessity, and it's fitting to do so.

Each year, in each federal electorate around the country, services of remembrance and commemoration are held for officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It's done on National Police Remembrance Day, which started in 1989.

I want to thank the extraordinary performance of Queensland Police Commissioner, Katarina Carroll, and the senior ranks for the support they've show the Queensland police community in the last few days. I extend my deepest sympathy to them. I extend that sympathy to the Queensland police officers in my electorate, in Ipswich, the Somerset region, and base at the Karana Downs police station as well.

I've pay tribute to the outstanding performance of the General President and CEO of the Queensland Police Union, Ian Leavers—someone known to many in this chamber, across the aisle. He is deeply respected. His work, and the work of his union members and their senior ranks, has been exemplary. I contacted Ian and asked him what I could say on his behalf. I couldn't think of a better thing to say than his own words in the statement he released from the union on the day of the tragedy:

The events of today remind us that our job as police is always dangerous. It never stops, and it comes at a heavy cost to us all.

It is also a stark reminder of what we risk every day… We know that when we leave home to go to work each day, there are never any guarantees we will come home at the end of the day.

These officers' lives have been cut tragically short for one reason and one reason alone, for simply doing their job, and we Queensland police remember and honour them.

These are great words, but simple words, from Ian Leavers. Ian and his team have wrapped their loving arms around the Queensland police community and their loved ones. I thank Ian and the union leadership for their empathy and ongoing commitment to their colleagues, fallen and alive. It has been exemplary.

The union has a memorial fund and Ian has asked me to let the public know that that memorial fund has been set up so people can donate funds. All the funds will go to and assist the families of Matthew and Rachel. I would encourage the public to do so.

There is an old saying in St John's gospel which states, 'There is no greater love than this: that someone should lay down their life for their friends.' The words are ancient but their relevance is contemporary. These police officers have given their lives in the service of their community, their state and their country. They paid a price they should never have had to pay. The least we can do is follow their example and support their colleagues, support their family and support their friends. They were doing their jobs but they were heroes. They will rest in peace but not be forgotten.


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