House debates

Thursday, 15 December 2022


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

2:02 pm

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the Environment and Water) Share this | Hansard source

I join the parliament today in honouring the memory of three brave Australians: Constable Rachel McCrow, Constable Matthew Arnold, and Alan Dare from Wieambilla, Queensland. Our hearts go out to all of those who mourn this terrible loss—the families and loved ones who have lost a piece of their heart; the friends who are grieving their beloved mates; everybody in the communities around Chinchilla and Tara, who have been shaken by this awful atrocity; and so many Australians in every part of Australia. I particularly want to acknowledge the constituents of the member for Maranoa. The member spoke very movingly about the people in the community that he represents that are affected by this tragedy, and I hope that he will convey to his electorate, to the people that he represents, the feelings of the whole of this parliament about the senseless loss of life that has just occurred.

Rachel McCrow, Matthew Arnold and Alan Dare were killed in cold blood, without warning, without reason, without mercy, and well before their time. The police officers who arrived at the farm were doing their job on a very ordinary Monday afternoon, chasing up a missing person case. A few concerns had been expressed about someone who'd been out of contact. It was a very routine sort of visit. They were ambushed by cowards while serving in the line of duty. As the president of the Queensland Police Union said afterwards, 'They didn't know what was coming.'

Police officers understand danger. They know they work in a hazardous profession, that every room they walk into carries some risk. Sometimes that risk is physical. Sometimes it's psychological—the work that is done by police officers investigating child abuse online or sexual assaults or murders; this is the worst of human behaviour. The risks are both physical and psychological.

But no-one should expect something like this, something so senseless, on a standard Monday afternoon at work, especially when they were just going to help. They were doing a welfare check.

Constable McCrow and Constable Arnold were at the start of what should've been very long careers. They were popular in the community. They were popular with the kids in the local schools, who could see that they were good people with kind hearts. They were taken down in the prime of their lives, with so much left to give, so much left to do and so much love in their lives.

I want to acknowledge the other officers who attended the scene, Constable Keely Brough and Constable Randall Kirk. They were taken to hospital with injuries and are also victims of this tragedy who should be remembered. I am sure that their injuries will last well beyond the time they spend in hospital—for many years to come. That's true of everybody who has attended the scene of this crime.

I also very much want to honour the memory of Alan Dare. We raise our kids to help. We think that if we have the opportunity to help we should do it. Alan Dare was a good Samaritan who saw smoke across his property and his first thought was, 'I need to go there because maybe someone needs my help.' As his family remembered, Alan was someone who would assist anyone and everyone and who would never ask for anything in return. According to his stepson: 'He went to help the neighbours because he thought there was a fire and he heard bangs. Maybe the house was on fire.' There is something so particularly cruel about Alan Dare's death, an act of kindness met with an act of depravity. May the memory of his goodness outlive any infamy attained by the extremists who killed him.

In my electorate there's an auditorium with a basketball court and it's named after Peter Forsyth, who was a police office killed in Ultimo. It was an absolutely standard part of his day. He stopped a suspected drug dealer. He lost his life in 1998. Every time I walk past that auditorium, which is almost every weekend, I think of Peter Forsyth and his family and think about their lives now, still missing their loved one.

If you look at the national police honour roll you will see these faces—so many of them so young—of police officers who have died far too early, while serving their country and serving their community. You will see face after face after face representing family after family after family, community after community. Especially as we approach Christmas, we think about them and their families and the empty places at those tables. We think of families missing their loved ones.

I join all Australians in remembering all of those lost in the line of duty and in particular the three courageous citizens that we remember today: Constable Rachel McCrow, Constable Matthew Arnold and Alan Dare. A few others have pointed out that it is in the very nature of police work, and other first responders, that they run towards the danger that we all run from. It reminds me of the Bruce Springsteen song 'Into The Fire' that he wrote about the firefighters who ran into the World Trade Centre after the 9/11 attacks. He wrote, 'May your strength give us strength. May your faith give us faith. May your hope give us hope. May your love give us love. I need you near but love and duty called you someplace higher.' I think about those words in respect of these tragic deaths. May they rest in eternal peace.


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