House debates

Thursday, 15 December 2022


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

12:52 pm

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is with a very heavy heart that I rise to speak on this condolence motion and pay tribute to those who were involved in this terrible event. As a former Queensland police officer, it truly is a tragedy. On 12 December 2022 four police officers attended a property at Wieambilla, south of Chinchilla, in response to a request for assistance with a routine missing persons inquiry from New South Wales. They got there at 4.30 pm and faced a hail of bullets. Two of the officers were struck down almost immediately, whilst the others were able to make a retreat. Constable Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow were both murdered in what appears to be a calculated ambush. Constable Randall Kirk was shot in the leg and managed to retreat. Constable Keely Brough took cover in nearby bush. I just will say, in relation to Constable Brough, what you must've gone through in those hours before backup arrived would've been horrific. You acted with the highest degree of bravery. I pay tribute to your actions.

Alan Dare, a neighbour who came, as has been said here, to do what Australians do was also gunned down. The loss that his family are feeling right now is equal to any. I pay tribute to him and acknowledge that loss.

Mr Speaker:

… police are the public and the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

They are the words of Sir Robert Peel, the father of modern-day policing, and they are as relevant in 2022 as they were in the early 1800s when he said them. As a former country cop before coming into this place, they're extremely relevant. You're a part of the community. You keep order. You help people. They rely on you and you rely on them. That's policing in Australia, and I think that is part of why this has struck so deep. Attacks like this, they attack the very fabric of who we are. Yes, there's a tragic, tragic loss of life here, but when citizens turn on each other in this way it's us turning on us, and it's horrible. We have to do everything to work out why and make sure it doesn't happen again.

The police that were attending, those officers that we're paying tribute to today, they were going there to help. They were going there on a missing persons job, a simple callout. You're going there to make sure someone's okay. That is what you are going there for, to find them and say: 'Are you alright? Someone's worried about you. There's a call that has been made to police.' That's what they were going there for, to help. Unfortunately, one of the people that they were going to help had very different intentions, and that's what we've seen play out.

As a former policeman, I've received a lot of messages over the past few days from colleagues, members of the community expressing their grief, horror, anger and sadness, but one thing they all, without exception, have said is this just doesn't happen in Australia. This is not Australia. And that is so true. We see this in other parts of the world, not Australia.

I pay tribute also to the bravery of the local police who, after receiving the information that they were heading into a situation where their lives would be put on the line and they would more than likely be shot at, went in there. They hoped to rescue Matthew and Rachel. They did retrieve them but, unfortunately, they did so under a hail of fire. To them I say: you are heroes. That's a word that's bandied about a lot these days, but you truly are heroes.

To the Special Emergency Response Team that goes out there with the very, very real and difficult job of stopping threat: I commend you for your performance and your duty. It must not be easy to know that when you are called out there is a strong chance you are going to have to take the life of another citizen. That's a heavy, heavy job. They are also unsung heroes a lot of the time, and I pay tribute to them for stopping that threat and containing it. A terrible, terrible job to have to do, but they did it.

I also pay tribute to Ian, and his team at the police union, they're there in the good times and they're there in the bad times. I know, from my experience as a cop, I relied on the Queensland Police Union for their support, and they're doing that now. I commend that; I commend them. A total of six people were killed on that day: two police officers, one innocent neighbour and three offenders. Two other young police officers suffered injuries, no doubt that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

In conclusion, I honour Constable Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow—they made the ultimate sacrifice. I extend my deepest sympathies to their families. I also pay tribute to their colleagues, the first responders who attended and all those involved.


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