House debates

Monday, 30 August 2021

Motions

National Police Remembrance Day

11:11 am

Photo of Chris HayesChris Hayes (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that National Police Remembrance Day will be observed on 29 September 2021;

(2) acknowledges the crucial role police officers across Australia play in our local communities and the tremendous risk and sacrifice that comes with their duty;

(3) honours the lives and memories of those police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duty and specifically this year honours, Senior Constable David Masters of the Queensland Police Service, who was killed while trying to intercept a stolen vehicle;

(4) pays tribute to the families and friends of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty throughout our nation's history;

(5) commends the valuable work of Police Legacy, who look after the loved ones of police officers who have fallen; and

(6) reaffirms its support for the nation's police officers and honours their courage, commitment and dedication in ensuring the peace and safety of our communities.

National Police Remembrance Day is observed on 29 September, the day of Saint Michael, the patron saint of all who defend against wrongdoing. This is one of the most significant days in the national police calendar. As a nation, we pause to remember the police officers who have lost their lives in the execution of their duty. We honour their courage and the commitment and the dedication of all police members who have sworn to protect our communities. Policing comes with a high degree of risk that thankfully most of us will never have to encounter. It takes a special type of person, I believe, with a special type of courage to wear the police uniform. We are forever indebted to those fine men and women who choose to do so and recognise their commitment to ensuring the peace, safety and wellbeing of our communities, a duty which we should never take for granted. Our safety and that of our families, the security of our homes and our businesses and indeed our democracy are all reliant on the enforcement of our laws, a task which predominantly falls to our police. I acknowledge the member for Cowper and his service in the NSW Police Force; the member for La Trobe and his service in Victoria Police; and the members for Richmond, Dickson and Wide Bay for their service in the Queensland Police Service.

This Police Remembrance Day I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the significant work that's being undertaken by our police with regard to assistance given to our respective health departments in combating COVID-19 outbreaks in our communities. The police continue to play an instrumental role on the front line in respect of the COVID-19 public health orders and restrictions, including maintaining, sadly, control at various protests, as we have seen. Police have been putting themselves on the front line in harm's way and have been personally attacked for doing their duty, which is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our communities, particularly during this challenging period.

Sadly, this year we will once again see the total number of police officers listed on the National Wall of Remembrance rise. This year we recognise the tragic loss of Senior Constable David Masters of the Queensland Police Service, who tragically was killed in the course of duty while trying to intercept a stolen vehicle. Senior Constable Masters was highly respected by his colleagues and his community, with his loyalty, commitment and positive attitude very much missed by those in the police family. Quite frankly, the death of Senior Constable Masters highlights the inherent dangers involved in all police work. These people are putting their lives at risk, not knowing what they are likely to encounter every time they go on the shift. Senior Constable Masters leaves behind his wife, Sharon, and his son, Jack. National Police Remembrance Day is, therefore, also a time to reflect on the loved ones that have been left behind. We mourn with them, we thank them and we honour all our police families, whose unconditional support allows these fine men and women to serve our communities.

We owe it to the fallen to look after their families, which is why the work of Police Legacy is particularly important and deserving of our support. I note that the Wall to Wall Ride is a major fundraising event for police legacy. But, because of COVID, this year the Wall to Wall Ride has been cancelled; and many of the commemorative services have also been significantly restricted, but most, I understand, will be livestreamed. Like many, I look forward to being able to ride again next year with members and friends of the police family, and hopefully without COVID restrictions, so that we can show our support for Police Legacy.

To Senior Constable Masters, to all the police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and to all past and current members of the Police Force: we honour you and profoundly thank you for your service. To all those on the thin blue line: please know and understand that your service makes a difference for the better in our community.

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for that contribution. Is the motion seconded?

11:16 am

Photo of Pat ConaghanPat Conaghan (Cowper, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion. I'm very pleased to rise to speak on this motion and I thank the member for Fowler for acknowledging the significance of Police Remembrance Day. On 31 January 1984 a criminal, whose name shall not be preserved in this place, held up three banks in the inner city of Sydney, the last of them being the Commonwealth Bank at Circular Quay. There, he took three staff hostage and discharged his firearm during a siege. The young male offender emerged from the bank completely surrounded by five hostages. Traffic was chaotic, and police told people to abandon their cars and move away. The offender took that opportunity to direct all the hostages into a stolen vehicle.

The car was pursued to the eastern suburbs and back over the Sydney Harbour Bridge down to Manly and back to the Spit Bridge, which had been closed by the police to prevent the car from proceeding. At this time, Detective Constable First Class Stephen Francis Canellis approached the car with a shotgun, which he knew he could not discharge under the circumstances, and attempted to arrest the offender. At that point, the offender shot Detective Canellis directly between the eyes. Detective Canellis's colleagues immediately fired on the offender, killing him. The hostages, though traumatised, were unharmed. Steve was seriously wounded. The bullet hit his skull and deflected through his throat. It missed the jugular vein and carotid artery, and came to rest in his shoulder. Through the work of medical staff, and perhaps divine intervention, Steve survived.

Later that year, Steve received the New South Wales Police Commissioner's commendation. It read in part: 'Detective Constable First Class Canellis placed himself in a face-to-face situation with the man in an attempt to persuade him to surrender. Notwithstanding the detective constable's brave endeavours, he was fired upon by the offender and sustained serious wounds.' The following year, with the approval of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Steve was awarded a commendation for brave conduct. Steve served for another decade; he would not be identified by this one incident. Sadly, on 18 August 2021, he passed away after complications with treatment for cancer. He was 68. I knew Steve. He was a good man, a good family man. He will be missed by his family, his closest friends and the fellowship.

What Steve did on that day was demonstrative of the bravery of tens of thousands of police officers every day in Australia. Steve was one of the lucky ones. Tragically, each year police officers' lives are lost protecting us and our communities. National Police Remembrance Day, observed on 29 September each year, is our opportunity to reflect and to honour the memory of the brave Australian police who have given their lives in the service of the community. Sadly, this year 10 names will be added to the National Police Memorial wall, three of whom lost their life in the past 12 months: Western Australia Police Force Detective Senior Constable Michael James Cursiter, who lost his life when he had a heart attack following the pursuit of an offender in Perth in November; New South Wales Police Force Senior Constable Kelly Foster, who lost her life while attempting to save a member of the public from drowning at Wollangambe Canyon in New South Wales this year; Queensland Police Service Senior Constable David Masters, who lost his life when he was struck by a stolen vehicle on the Bruce Highway at Burpengary in Queensland in June this year; and seven historical additions from Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the family members. I thank all members, sworn and unsworn, of all our police forces around the nation, and I thank you for your service.

11:21 am

Photo of Anne StanleyAnne Stanley (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is my pleasure to rise to support the motion moved by the member for Fowler and seconded by the member for Cowper to appropriately recognise again National Police Remembrance Day. This day acknowledges the crucial role that police officers play across Australia. More importantly, at the end of September each year, police throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands pause to honour officers whose lives have been cut short while performing their duties or as a result of their duties. This year we also acknowledge Senior Constable David Masters of the Queensland Police Service, who was killed while trying to intercept a stolen vehicle. I add my condolences to his family, friends and the Queensland police community. I also add my condolences to those whose names were read out by the member for Cowper, who spoke just before me. This important day is also a time to remember police officers who have lost their lives through illness or other circumstances. Whether it's in our local communities, social events, natural disasters or global pandemics, the police force is there to serve our community, and it does a wonderful job of that.

National Police Remembrance Day is one of the most significant days in the police calendar, and as a nation we pause to remember those police officers who have lost their lives fulfilling their duty to protect their community, and to honour the courage and commitment of all police members. I want to also acknowledge Police Legacy, who provide financial and emotional support to the loved ones left behind. They ensure that families have someone to help them. Police Legacy provides some financial support so that children can still receive education and know that they are part of the bigger police community.

The trust that a community places in its police force should never be underestimated. The risks faced by officers every day, in a variety of roles and responsibilities they take on, are recognised by all our community. Police officers are sought to act when people are facing some of the most distressing times in their lives. Situations such as these require calm and a clear and focused voice. That's what police officers provide, along with the confidence and leadership that is required to provide support and care when our community and people really need them. Many officers have had to face circumstances such as these on several occasions and conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism. I note particularly in the last few weeks with the protests that have been happening that some of our offices have been hurt in these protests. They are doing their job and they should not be the reason for an attack.

This trust that the community has in the police force is tested daily. Although the events of the last 18 months have amplified this trust, from catastrophic bushfires to the current crisis of coronavirus, police officers across the country have repeatedly put themselves at increased risk. The police force already face a high degree of risk. There are many dangers that come with the roles and responsibilities of an officer—dangers that our police officers have to face day to day—and experiences that many people will never have to face, or even know are happening.

Fulfilling the responsibilities of police work, while also managing the new risks Australians face every day with coronavirus, deserves all the merit it earns and so much more. The logistics support delivered by the New South Wales Police Force during this pandemic, not only in command, but officers on the ground, was essential to ensure the safety of the community. Throughout the changing landscape over the last 20 months, officers did not get complacent with the increased risk. They continue to keep our community safe.

I would particularly like to acknowledge and thank Liverpool City Police Area Command police officers and Superintendent Adam Whyte. I know the Liverpool command has provided support and policing in the whole of New South Wales on border patrols, during recent protests, and by going door to door to ensure that members of our community are supported during lockdown. This is all on top of the normal work they need to do every day to keep our communities safe. I acknowledge and appreciate the work of Superintendent Whyte and his colleagues for their assistance and dedication to our community. Policing in a pandemic is not an easy job, and I thank the men and women of the police force in my community and around Australia every day for the job they do. I honour the nation's police officers' commitment, courage and dedication, ensuring the peace and safety of our community, and again acknowledge those who have made the supreme sacrifice doing their job to keep our communities safe.

11:26 am

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Leader of the Nationals) Share this | | Hansard source

When an emergency happens, as frightened people flee from the scene, police and other first responders run towards the danger to assist, to do what they can, to protect property, to save lives. It's instinct. They don't think twice; they just 'do'.

As the proud father of a police officer, I support what our law enforcers do and thank them—not just on 29 September, National Police Remembrance Day, but every day—for the work they do and the risks they take, unflinchingly and willingly on our behalf.

At a time when people across our country should be doing everything they can to support police in their duty, sadly there is an element in society who are doing everything but that. Shame on them. Why people feel the need to gather en masse to protest against COVID-19 lockdowns, in defiance of state impositions, is beyond belief. Not only is it breaking the law; it is also placing at risk their lives and livelihoods and those around them, including the police sent to keep the peace. And that is the point. Police are assigned to these protests to maintain law and order. They do not deserve to be abused, spat on, have projectiles hurled at them, or for their horses to be punched in the head. That is not how Australia should be in 2021.

Sadly there are those, even members and senators in this place, I am disappointed to say, who have not helped the situation. For an MP to exaggerate about police actions at these protests, falsely claiming protesters were brutalised by police, is beyond the pale. How about condemning the protesters for breaching public health orders first, instead of unfairly and unjustly castigating the brave men and women in blue sent to these illegal gatherings to do their job. I know of a young constable who has been physically assaulted in uniform multiple times in the first 17 months of his policing career—multiple times. And then we have MPs, supposed to be people's representatives, pointing accusatory fingers at those courageous officers, from beneath their doonas in the sanctuary of their darkened rooms, from the bravery of their keyboards. These same people would be the first to squeal if police were not on the scene within minutes if they ever needed them. Give me a break. Better still, give the police a break. Police deserve our encouragement. Police deserve our support and respect always. Our courts should not be revolving doors for criminals; and magistrates should and must back our police in their work, with appropriate sentencing.

In my home town, Wagga Wagga, the community is fortunate to have had a police chief such as Bob Noble for nearly eight years. Now the commander of the Riverina Police District, Superintendent Noble has carried out his duties with dignity, grace and style. He is a fine leader and a credit to the New South Wales Police Force. It has not been easy for him. He hadn't been in charge 12 months when the Hunt family tragedy occurred near Lockhart—a husband and father taking the lives of his poor wife, their three beautiful children and himself. It was a tough time for everyone in this close-knit country community, not least the local police called to deal with this horrific and senseless crime. Superintendent Noble coordinated the initial investigation before Sydney homicide detectives arrived. He later told the Guardian's Gabrielle Chan he found it all quite upsetting. He said:

… I am very proud of the work done by police in helping community through that, particularly the friends and family of the deceased …

People chose to live in rural communities simply because there is a deeper investment in the people around you. That's a double edged sword, when the bad thing happens, they knock you around that much more badly.

It was a deeply disturbing case, but police deal with difficult matters every day in a caring and professional way. A recent report said that, on average, across this nation, police deal with 594 domestic violence incidents each day. That is just so sad, so unfortunate.

I also wish to acknowledge Rod Smith, who has progressed from Wagga Wagga to overseeing Goulburn police academy to the important role of assistant commissioner. He embodies everything we want and expect our uniformed officers to be. So let us thank our police. They do the job asked of them by governments for and on behalf of the people they are tasked to preserve and protect. We especially honour those who have fallen in the line of duty, who made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you to police officers across Australia for what you do, for the risks you must take, for the difference you make, and for the bravery you've shown in the past, you show now and will always show.

11:31 am

Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] It is with great pride that I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Fowler. Our country owes a great deal of debt to the men and women of our police forces who have made, and continue to make, great sacrifices in the service of our community and our country. On 29 December, our nation will observe National Police Remembrance Day and, rightfully, will pay tribute to the crucial role that police officers play right across this nation.

Australians serve in our communities, and they accept the immense risk to them as part of the sacrifice of their role serving the Australian people. Throughout this COVID pandemic, we have seen Australian police officers again and again put themselves on the front line, providing crucial services to our communities throughout one of the most difficult periods in our country. We live in one of the safest countries on the planet, and we owe our police officers an immense debt for providing us with that safety. We commend the brave men and women of our police forces for undertaking their duties with integrity, compassion and for serving our communities with such pride. It's of the utmost importance that we take the time to recognise the services of police officers, and to honour the lives and memories of those police officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duties in order to ensure a safer community for all of us.

The police officers who have lost their lives in the course of their duties are true Australian heroes. They were the bravest amongst us, and we owe them the utmost respect and reverence. This year we honour the life and memory of Senior Constable David Masters of the Queensland Police Service, who lost his life in the line of duty. The men and women of our police force serve on the front lines of our community. They place themselves, using all their bravery and integrity, in the path of danger to ensure our communities are protected. In many ways, their loved ones share the sacrifices they make.

On National Police Remembrance Day, we pay tribute to the families and friends of those police officers who may have been killed in the line of duty throughout our nation's history. We acknowledge their families' pain and sacrifice, and we thank them for their strength. It is also fitting that we commend the work of Police Legacy, who look after the loved ones of police officers who have fallen in the line of duty. It's the men and women of our police forces who safeguard our communities. Police officers are the backbone of so many of our communities, acting in capacities reaching far beyond law enforcement as they seek to ensure the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve. These are Australian heroes, and they deserve our utmost gratitude and respect.

When I think back to the aftermath of Black Saturday, I think of the police who are out there day in and day out. Every single time there is a national disaster, the police put their lives and their mental health on the line, and I have seen personally the impact that has on the great men and women who have been out there doing the right thing for our communities. We can never thank them enough. I'm very blessed to know a few police members, including former Assistant Commissioner Brian Harding, who recently launched a book. When you sit back and hear the stories of what police officers have done and how they've been able to work in and manage communities to bring out the best in them it's just second to none.

As the member for Riverina said, we know that in a time of crisis they're the first people there. They're there in situations that we hope we would never ever have to see, but they're always there to help us and to help the rest of the community. Quite often, as we've seen, they're also—unfairly—on the front line for abuse and attack by ignorant morons in our community. We have all come foul of the law occasionally; a few times they have been of great assistance to me in helping to increase the state's coffers with a few indiscretions I've had over the years—the odd speeding ticket—to help keep the community in the black. But we always know that, first and foremost, they're there.

I was with them through my younger days in driving tow trucks; they were always there when it was a fatality. It's the police who did the hard stuff. Imagine being in the situations that they have to put themselves in. They have to go to someone's home and tell them that a loved one is not coming home. And there was the year before, where we saw four of our Victorian police officers killed in a terrible tragedy—disgustingly, filmed by a piece of filth whose name I will not use. Those four officers should never be forgotten for the work they did and that they were trying to do. At the end of the day our police are there to protect our communities and to protect our lives, and we should be grateful and thankful to them.

I want to congratulate all the people who have been involved with this, but I want to pay my respects to the former police officers who are serving in our community—including my friend the member for Richmond—who I know have done so much for this community and who never stop giving. I just want to pay my respects to them as well.

11:36 am

Photo of Fiona MartinFiona Martin (Reid, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak today about National Police Remembrance Day, and I acknowledge and thank the member for Fowler for moving this important motion.

For 24 hours, seven days a week and 365 days a year, the men and women of the police services of Australia protect us. From regional towns to the inner cities, and in my electorate of Reid, they put on the blue uniform every day and serve their communities with professionalism, courage and commitment. They put their lives on the line to keep our community safe and to keep Australia safe. Today, and at the upcoming National Police Remembrance Day on 29 September, we will pause to thank them and reflect on the bravery of police officers who have served and who continue to serve, and we will pay tribute to those officers who have been killed in the line of duty. Sadly, this year, a further 10 names will be added to the National Police Memorial wall, three of whom lost their lives in the past 12 months: Western Australian police Detective Senior Constable Michael James Cursiter; NSW Police Force Senior Constable Kelly Foster; and Queensland police Senior Constable David Masters.

The death of any police officer is a tragedy for their loved ones, for their colleagues and for the community. The grief and pain may be different, but we all feel it. We all feel it because we recognise that police officers stand between us and those who seek to do harm. They run towards danger when others run from it. The role of the police is also at the forefront of many people's minds in the community at this time. Policing during COVID-19 is not an easy task; it is multifaceted and there are many aspects to it. For our police officers serving on the front line in New South Wales it's particularly difficult right now. They have been given incredible powers, but we know that these are powers which they can't wait to relinquish. We know that it's incredibly difficult for police to have to enforce COVID-19 restrictions at funerals, church services and family gatherings. The reality is that we ask a lot of our police; to enforce the law is not an easy task. But we must not lose sight of the fact that they themselves have families. Just like us, they're also living through this lockdown. Each day they leave their families to serve the community.

We only have to reflect on the violent protests we saw in Sydney a few weeks ago to recognise the risks officers are under. While I recognise that, for some, seeing more police on the streets is not reassuring at this time, we must remember that just as we empower our police to take drunk drivers off the road and to find speeding drivers, so too we empower them to keep us safe by minimising the spread of COVID-19 in our communities during these challenging times.

I also want to take this opportunity to commend the vital work of Police Legacy, who look after the loved ones of fallen officers. They provide practical care at difficult times; this might mean supporting children through their education, providing referrals for bereavement counselling and other social services or introducing them to other Police Legacy families who have also gone through the same grief.

I am honoured and humbled to stand here today and remember Michael James Cursiter, Kelly Foster and David Masters. They are heroes. This National Police Remembrance Day we will pause to express our gratitude to those who protect and serve our communities, and ensure that those who have fallen are never forgotten.

11:41 am

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] I also support the motion recognising National Police Remembrance Day, which is observed on 29 September this year. I acknowledge all the previous speakers and agree with their sentiments.

Police Remembrance Day commemorates police officers from all Australian police services who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our community. As a former police officer myself I'd like to thank and acknowledge all police right across the nation for the incredible work they do. I would also like to acknowledge the member for Fowler for again moving this important motion, and acknowledge his ongoing dedication to this day of remembrance and his continued advocacy in all areas of policing.

I note the motion:

(f) reaffirms its support for the nation's police officers and honours their courage, commitment and dedication in ensuring the peace and safety of our communities.

It also:

(a) acknowledges the crucial role police officers across Australia play in our local communities and the tremendous risk and sacrifice that comes with their duty.

Police Remembrance Day is a time for all of us to reflect and remember the very real risks our police officers face on a constant basis. I would also especially like to point out the increased duties our police have had since the pandemic started 18 months ago. There have been many challenges with increasing COVID-19 health restrictions across the nation—particularly in my home state of New South Wales, which is currently in lockdown.

Today I'd like to make special mention of all the police in my electorate of Richmond, on the New South Wales North Coast, who serve and protect our community. I want to thank all those officers serving in commands here specifically for their efforts during the current crisis. I know firsthand the outstanding work they do.

Police Remembrance Day is a time when we pause and honour the lives and memories of police who have had their lives tragically cut short in their work protecting us. It's also a very solemn and important day for police officers, their loved ones and the wider police family. In particular, we pay tribute to the men and women of the service who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Together we must ensure their legacies are preserved.

This year we specifically paid tribute to Senior Constable David Masters, of the Queensland Police Service, who was tragically killed on 26 June this year while trying to intercept a stolen vehicle. I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues. It's in these very difficult times that wider support is incredibly essential. On that note I wish to pay tribute to the very enduring work of Police Legacy, an incredible organisation providing services to police legatees across the state. It was established as an association in 1987 and became incorporated in 1991, and for more than 30 years it has been providing essential support and assistance to families. Today, NSW Police Legacy assists approximately 1,300 police legatees by providing that support, compassion and so many services and advocacy to those legatees.

As a former general duties police officer myself, I've seen firsthand some of the situations and complexities that police officers face day in, day out while serving their communities. They often have to face confronting, dangerous situations and also have to attend fatal incidents and horrific tragedies. I would like to acknowledge and commend police for their empathy, strength and professionalism in performing such work. I'd also like to acknowledge the post-traumatic stress disorders that some officers may carry as a direct result of their police experience. Recognising and responding to the issues, pressures and challenges that our police face is indeed essential, and we must raise the public's awareness of the realities that police officers face in their duties. There are so many specific challenges in policing and in regional areas like mine on the New South Wales north coast. As I've said publicly many times and commented on before, I'll continue to stand with my community in calling for more police and more resources for regional communities like mine on the far north coast of New South Wales.

On Police Remembrance Day, I encourage locals in my area and across the country to take the time to think about the role that police officers play within our community, in our state and indeed right throughout the nation. It's an occasion for us all to recognise those services and acknowledge the work they are doing to keep us safe, and particularly remember those police who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our community. I commend the motion to the House.

11:46 am

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to acknowledge the member for Fowler, who has brought this motion today. It's a very important one. I won't use the term heroes to describe our men and women who serve this country in blue, and in fact all our emergency services workers, because it's so overused these days. But we thank them for their service. We rightly give so much emphasis to our men and women who wear khaki for the work and service that they do for this country and give to this country, but we don't recognise enough the service that our emergency service workers and, in particular, our police give. I want to join the chorus in acknowledging Police Remembrance Day on 29 September this year, as we do every year, and I hope that this year I will be able to join with my local constabulary in my own electorate and take part in those proceedings that we will have on 29 September to recognise and remember those who have fallen in the service of their communities.

The Queensland Police Service motto is 'With Honour We Serve,' and I think in difficult times you should always go back to your roots. It doesn't matter what job you're in; you should always go back to your roots, always go back to why you're in this job in the first place. For the police, for all those men and women who are out there serving today, go back to your roots, go back to your motto. It's 'With Honour We Serve' in Queensland. In Victoria it's 'Tenez le droit,' Latin for 'uphold the right'. Those are two great mottos that serve as a remembrance to all serving men and women as to why they do what they do and why they continue to put themselves in harm's way to protect their communities.

We acknowledge those men and women who have died in service of their community. In particular, I want to acknowledge Senior Constable David Masters, who was killed in Queensland in June this year. I was driving back from Canberra, from Brisbane airport, that very morning. We got diverted and the traffic was unbelievable; what is normally an hour and a half's drive to get home took me about four hours. I got diverted off the Bruce Highway and I was selfishly thinking, 'What's going on here?' I turned the radio on and learned that Senior Constable David Masters had been killed as a result of being struck by a stolen vehicle that very morning, and a profound sense of grief overcame me; here I was complaining about my travel being disrupted for a few hours, and this young man had lost his life in the service of his community. It's a poignant reminder of the dangers that these men and women put themselves in.

It's not just the deaths that impact on our police service and emergency service workers. As the member for Richmond just indicated, it's the PTSD and the mental health problems that many suffer as a result of their service. I've work closely with members of the QPS—in particular, one of my mates from the Alex Surf Club who was a scenes-of-crime officer. He has shared with me the unbelievable sorrow that he carries with him as a result of his many, many years as a scenes-of-crime officer. Most people could not even imagine let alone live through what those men and women are exposed to on a daily basis.

I want to acknowledge the superintendent of the north coast region, Craig Hawkins, and Inspector Jason Overland, whom I have very good relationships with locally. I want to acknowledge the member for Wide Bay, the member for Cowper, the Minister for Defence, the member for Richmond and the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs for their service to their communities around this great country. Again, I want to thank the member for Fowler for bringing this very, very important motion.

11:51 am

Photo of Shayne NeumannShayne Neumann (Blair, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] On National Police Remembrance Day, on 29 September each year, we honour the courage, commitment and dedication of our police in ensuring the peace and safety of our community. With honour they serve. I commend this motion and thank the member for Fowler.

National Police Remembrance Day is observed in my community every year at Browns Park, where we honour a local constable who originally came from Scotland and gave his life to save two people in Ipswich back in the late 19th century. There is a monument in Browns Park in Ipswich to honour his legacy. But tragically since that time, hundreds of police have given their lives in service, and their families have lived with that sacrifice. We thank them for their commitment.

As a lawyer, I have profound respect and sincere gratitude for those police officers who particularly work in child protection. I want to thank, in my local community, Sergeant Nadine Webster, who got an Australian police medal this year in the Australia Day awards for the work she has done in the crime prevention unit here in Ipswich; and Senior Constable Kerrin Sheedy and all the other constables and police officers in my community who make the Ipswich, Somerset and Karana Downs area safe. It's important we acknowledge the crucial role they undertake. I also want to thank a friend of mine, the president and CEO of the Queensland police union, Ian Leavers, for his years of advocacy on behalf of police, often agitating, irritating and annoying government, but doing the right thing by the police officers who he represents and acting on their behalf and in their best interests. Thank you, Ian, for your service as well.

Every night and day, the men and women of the Queensland Police Service work to protect and support our community. Unfortunately, so many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. I want to thank their family and friends for what they've done. I note that National Police Remembrance Day this year specifically honours a Queensland police constable, Senior Constable David Masters, who was killed trying to intercept a stolen vehicle at 3 am on Saturday 26 June 2021. He was performing his duties as a member of the Deception Bay police station on the Bruce Highway at Burpengary. He deployed road spikes across the highway in an attempt to stop the driver of a speeding stolen vehicle, when the driver swerved and struck Senior Constable Masters, tragically resulting in fatal injuries. Each year we remember people like Senior Constable David Masters.

As I said, for many years I've attended the local National Police Remembrance Day in Browns Park in Ipswich, but I also attended the unveiling of what was then the new Queensland police memorial within the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens. That was in 2019. This memorial provides a place of reflection for families and friends of officers who since 1862 have died serving the community of Queensland, both as a colony and now as a state.

The motion from the member for Fowler also commends the valuable work of Police Legacy, who have looked after the loved ones of police officers who have fallen. In my home state of Queensland, the Queensland Police Legacy was established in 1971 and does a fantastic job assisting the dependent families of deceased Queensland police officers. They're currently supporting 48 Queensland police families and meeting the educational expenses of 78 children.

We want to thank the police for what they've done. We want to thank them for the work they undertake. But this month I will be attending in my home city of Ipswich the Child Protection Week awards. There are many organisations who assist the Queensland police in protecting our local community. They are brothers and sisters in arms. They are allies and comrades of the Queensland Police Service. I thank those organisations who will be honoured and those who have been nominated. I'll be there to support you once again.

In summary, I thank the Queensland Police Service, the police services all around the country and their families and friends. I offer you my thoughts and prayers and my deepest gratitude for the work you've undertaken and for the sacrifice you've experienced.

11:56 am

Photo of David SmithDavid Smith (Bean, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I also rise to support the motion of the members for Fowler and Cowper in relation to National Police Remembrance Day. The mask I wear in parliament today is one that I have from the Australian Federal Police Association. It's representative of a long connection I have with our local police. Before I entered federal politics I worked in the labour movement for more than a decade, including as industrial relations manager with the Australian Federal Police Association. I relished my time with the AFPA and got a much better understanding of the diverse and complex range of responsibilities, from community policing in a fast-growing city to counterterrorism, forensics, cybercrime, international deployments and protection services both here and abroad. I came to appreciate the enormous risk and stress that many of our police members are under both here and abroad. Sadly, during that time, this included the loss of members' lives.

This year we remember 10 officers who have lost their lives across our police services. We remember their families. This year we also recognise the extraordinary additional work done by our police services in relation to the challenges posed by the pandemic. Police Week 2021 will be held across the country from Saturday 18 September and conclude on 29 September, National Police Remembrance Day. Because of many of the challenges of COVID, many of the events that would typically occur will not be able to go ahead in the same way. It is hoped we are still able to have the national service here later in September. It's worth reminding members that there are opportunities to support Police Legacy and that those efforts are really important given that those opportunities are limited because many of the events won't go ahead in the same way.

I continue to welcome the opportunity to meet with members of the AFPA and the Police Federation of Australia and their members to ensure that the concerns that affect them in their working lives are raised here in this parliament. I'm mindful of the value of the importance of maintaining that regular and close contact with those whose daily work places them at the front line of policing and security. I'm committed to working cooperatively with the association and its members to strengthen the AFP's capability to deal with the significant challenges we face.

This motion particularly relates to those 10 officers who lost their lives over the last year. In that time when I worked for the AFPA, I knew that policing came with a degree of risk—a degree of risk which, thankfully, most members of the community will never have to face. Through my involvement post that AFPA involvement, I came to understand that it takes a special type of person with a special type of courage to commit to wearing the police uniform. We are truly indebted to the men and women who choose to do so.

This year we particularly remember Senior Constable Masters and his family.

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.