House debates

Thursday, 15 December 2022


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

1:01 pm

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today with an extremely heavy heart and a heart that's been rocked by the tragedy that we have seen out of Queensland this week. The fact is that a national tragedy occurred on Monday 12 December 2022, and the lives of two bright and promising young Australians were cruelly ripped away from all of us. I honour the fallen—to remember Constable Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow—and recognise the hard work and dedication of their colleagues Constable Randall Kirk and Constable Keely Brough. I share in the collective grief of our nation and of our parliament, and extend my heartfelt sympathies to our wider police family.

Police know that there's a risk when we walk out the door, and we know that this risk can have a catastrophic impact on the lives of those we love and who love us. Yet, in spite of this, police turn up. They show up at the worst times in people's lives, and they do what needs to be done. Police officers care and are very compassionate. They share of themselves and do their best to see everyone, including themselves and their partners, make it home safe at the end of the day.

There are families across Australia today who have witnessed the worse nightmare of policing families coming true—the fear that the person our families know to be strong and dedicated could be so cruelly taken away, that there'd be a gaping wound open in the lives of those we love and all that potential can be taken away so quickly. To Dr Judy McCrow, Samantha McCrow and your families, to Sue Arnold, Hayley Arnold and James Arnold and your families, I share and see your grief and grieve with you. Your families have paid too high a price for the safety of the community and the tragic loss of your loved ones will not be forgotten. I also acknowledge the grief of the community and particularly the loss of Mr Alan Dare, a neighbour executed cruelly. To Kerry, Corey and Renee, I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences.

A horrific attack on the way of life all Australians hold near and dear has occurred. The facts of this situation have played across the news over the last few days. What we know now is at the confronting situation that the police faced, being called out to what would be a routine job, and then to be ambushed and killed in this way; it was just horrific.

Constable Matthew Arnold was sworn in as a police officer in March 2020 and Constable Rachel McCrow was sworn in as a police officer in June 2021. Both of them began their careers in the Dalby division, before moving to the Tara police station. Matthew was a triplet and brother to James and sister Hayley. He was a talented sportsman, who proudly gave back to his school, St Laurence's College.

We just cannot imagine the pain that Sue Arnold and the rest of Matthew's family must be going through at this time. Matthew was a proud graduate of St Laurence's College, graduating in 2013. He left the school with a Sportsman of the Year Award and continued to serve the school community as a coach to students since graduation. He exemplified giving back to the communities that cared for him. I know and I understand he brought this compassion and community focus to his time as a serving police officer in Dalby and Tara.

Rachel McCrow understood at a personal level the great personal fulfilment that comes from serving others. Her mother, Dr Judy McCrow, is a dedicated nurse and passionate academic who has given so much to the community. Together with her sister, Samantha, Rachel too was on the path of continuing that community service. A kind and supportive family member and friend, Rachel always stood resolutely and bravely for what she believed in, and she inspired others around her. I am told that for Rachel going above and beyond was normal, and she applied herself with such diligence and dedication as a police officer. She was warm and supportive and had all the skills that we need in the police who serve our community. Rachel's humanity shone through as a police officer, and she gave so much of herself to get the very best results.

The grief that has poured forth from across the nation for Matthew and Rachel is a testament to the remarkable young police officers that they were. That their lives and their great promise have been cruelly cut short is a tragedy that no-one should have to experience. I know that everyone here in this place mourns for these lives cut short and mourns for the families who somehow must have to carry on. As a former Queensland police officer, I mourn for my former profession and colleagues. Two bright and dedicated Australians took up the role of police officer, and they brought their vigour, their life experience and their understanding of a new generation to the profession. They aspired to serve their community. The loss of that opportunity, for the Queensland police and indeed for the Queensland community is another layer to the absolute tragedy that has occurred. Their loss is something that the whole wider police family mourns very intently.

It's a miracle also that constables Randall Kirk and Keely Brough survived this atrocity, and I think we are all overwhelmed and inspired by the actions they took in what were extremely difficult circumstances. Make no mistake: this was an execution planned by calculated monsters, and in the face of that horror, Randall, Keely, Rachel and Matthew rose up and paid a terrible price. The scars from this event will carry through the lives of the Queensland community, the Queensland police and indeed across the nation for many years to come.

I also want to acknowledge the 16 brave officers who rallied to protect the community and defend their colleagues. From what we know, the circumstances that greeted them were confronting and horrific, and these police did what needed to be done to keep each other and the community safe.

I especially want to acknowledge Constable Keely Brough and the courage she displayed under the most difficult of circumstances. We know that Keely desperately wanted to join the police service and worked incredibly hard to get there and join and serve. In this situation, when faced with brutal murderers and fearing for her own life by fire, by a deadly rain of bullets, she was able to provide intelligence and relay information to her colleagues. I want to acknowledge her actions and wish her a speedy recovery. In her first eight weeks as a police officer Keely has been faced with huge adversity and has risen to the challenge in the eight weeks she has been in the police.

Constable Randall Kirk was shot, and his body was impacted by shrapnel. I understand he has left hospital and has been reunited with his wife, Breanna, and their young daughter. Randall and Breanna are expecting another child in January, and we wish them all the very best. Randall was shot and managed to make his way back to the car and get to safety. Like Keely, he continued to provide assistance and pass on information and raise the alarm with his colleagues. The pain that he must have been under is incomprehensible, and in the face of such adversity he rose with such bravery to continue to do what was best for everyone involved.

I also want to acknowledge everyone at the Queensland Police Union, particularly president Ian Leavers, for their ongoing support of their members, especially at this time.

In this place, we must continue to reflect on this tragedy and we must indeed lead the mourning in our nation. We must never forget, and could never forget, the sacrifices. We must never forget their families and the fundamental way those families' lives have changed forever. We must always reflect after these instances and ensure what must be done to prevent these tragedies from happening. We have a duty to ensure an Australia that is safe from such extreme violence. I pass on all my condolences to family and friends and to the wider police family, and I acknowledge all of the speakers here today. I ask everyone to continue to be mindful and reflective in the coming days.


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