Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2023


Doig, Brevet Sergeant Jason, Stevens, Mr Charles Hinchcliffe

7:36 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

On Friday 17 November, our home state of South Australia woke to the news that police officer Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig, after 34 years of service keeping our community safe, had died in the line of service. He was the first police officer killed by gunfire in South Australia in almost 40 years.

As South Australia grieved and dealt with the shock of this action and this loss, our state was then to be thrown into yet more grief and yet more tragedy, with the death in the following 24 hours of South Australia Police Commissioner Grant Stevens's son, Charlie. Like Jason Doig, it is so unfair and so tragic. Yet, out of the tragedy, Commissioner Grant Stevens again showed the grace, the leadership and the courage to ensure that the tragedy his family was dealing with was also put into the context of the tragedy of all road deaths, by issuing the most powerful of statements, which I will read into the Hansard now:

I am writing this sitting in a bedroom with dirty clothes on the floor, an unmade bed, six drinking glasses lined up on the bedside table, an empty KFC box next to the glasses, wardrobe doors left open and a row of skateboards leaning on the wall—it is a mess and it's perfect. This is where 101 lived.

101 arrived on the 28th of April 2005 and changed our lives forever. The last of five—he was different. Cheeky, intense and funny—a loveable ratbag from the moment he could talk. He was as frustrating as hell, but he was also the kid who would look after others, befriend the lonely and help those who were struggling.

Intensity shone through as 101 committed to each new passion—Lego, BBL, scooters, footy, cricket, basketball, surfing, downhilling, Fortnite and his skateboard—it was all or nothing and it was always all.

101 hated cheese because his brother did. He was a master of the airfryer, the nutrabullet and the steamer. He loved his mum's curried sausages but he didn't know where the dishwasher was.

His favourite pastime was pushing mum's buttons—although a different name on his birth certificate, "f** off Charlie" was what you would hear most in our house, followed closely by "put a shirt on" and "take your hat off at the table".

101 loved footy. He loved the Cats, he played 100 games for the Mitcham Hawks, then the Jets, the Goody Saints, the Camels and Westies, he just wanted to play and be part of the team.

It was 101 who taught us you can't shower unless you have your bluetooth speaker fully cranked so mum and dad can't hear themselves talk in the kitchen.

101 never wanted for soap, shampoo or shavers—someone else in the house always has it—even a used towel! His enthusiasm for school saw no bounds—except start time and school work. But his enthusiasm for his family and his mates was real.

101 has a circle of friends the rest of us could only dream about. He loved his mates and they loved him. His friends' parents liked having 101 in their homes. He was mates with his brother's mates. Living with him meant waking up on weekends to four or five extra bodies in spare beds and on couches. It meant the family garage being transformed into a man cave where things parents did not know about (or probably permit) could happen.

The only time we saw 101 truly angry was when he was forced to cut his precious hair for his sister's wedding in 2021. He never went back to a hairdresser again.

Being 101's alarm clock was a role his mum and I took up when he left school and started his apprenticeship. "Get up mate, get up mate", "mate, get up", "are you not going to work today?", followed by "drive safely and don't speed" becoming the morning mantra.

101 thrived at work, he loved working, loved his job and he idolised his boss. It meant he had money for TA Tuesdays and Wednesday Wings at the Feathers. 101 was adored by the sausage dogs Gracie and Zoe, who would sneak into his bed at night.

On a good day, we would be lucky to see 101 for half an hour between him getting home from work and heading out with his mates, but it was enough.

101 is Charles Stevens—Charlie, Charlie Boy, Chas, Links, Steve. You lived life and gave so much to so many. You were a force of nature and we will never forget your beautiful cheeky, disarming smile.

Son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, workmate, teammate. So much more than just a number on a tragic tally.

Grant Stevens released this statement, with '101' being the 101st death by road accident in South Australia this year. One hundred families are feeling the same pain that he and his wife, Emma—a truly amazing couple and wonderful people—their children Sophie, Dylan, Josh and Tom, Charlie's mates, their mates' parents and families, the Mercedes College community, his workmates and, of course, so many other in similar circumstances feel. To all of them—to the family of Jason Doig and all those in the South Australian police community—we extend our commiserations and our heartfelt thanks for your service. We salute them in their time of grief.