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Thursday, 14 February 2008
Page: 429

Mr HAYES (4:51 PM) —I rise to congratulate Superintendent Stuart Wilkins, who was awarded the Australian Police Medal in the Australia Day honours this year. Superintendent Wilkins is a proud member of the New South Wales Police Force. In fact, he is the Commander of the Macquarie Fields police station. He has had a proud history, going back some 28 years, in the New South Wales police. Predominantly, he has been engaged in investigating homicides and other serious crimes.

People will recall that in 2005 there was a much publicised event that occurred in Macquarie Fields, which is in my electorate. Unfortunately, a riot took place. Subsequent to that riot, Superintendent Wilkins was transferred to Macquarie Fields. I happen to know personally the amount of work that Superintendent Wilkins has put into working with the community—with Father Chris Riley’s Youth off the Streets and every other agency in Macquarie Fields. It is extraordinary to see the lengths to which he and his command have gone to normalise relations in the community.

I have particular appreciation and respect for the police, partly because of having spent a good part of my life representing the interests of police officers in a professional capacity and also because my father was a senior officer in the New South Wales police. I have had the opportunity on many occasions, formal and otherwise, to ask police why they chose policing as a career. Extraordinarily and invariably, the response has been ‘to make a difference’. I take that as absolute sincerity because that was the very same comment that my father made to me many years back when I questioned him as to why he had joined the police. Superintendent Wilkins has made an enormous contribution to his command in Macquarie Fields. He has made a significant difference to the life of the community generally but also to the normalisation of relationships and to the fact that we can rely on the enforcement of law and order. That is an extraordinary thing.

The Australian Police Medal is a rare honour. Since its establishment in 1986 there have been only 1,067 of these awards presented. As I understand it, the police services are only allowed to present one award per 1,000 members. Consequently, the award given to Superintendent Wilkins is significant, certainly in terms of the community but also because it is recognition by his peers of his extraordinary efforts during his career in the New South Wales police—in particular, what he has done in administering the command at Macquarie Fields.

The lot of a police officer is always difficult. It is often seen as a thankless task. Police officers are in place to protect the community and community values, and often they are referred to as ‘the thin blue line’. It is incumbent on people who occupy seats in this august body to recognise that there are people out there who are prepared to put their lives on the line every single day as they go about their duties on behalf of all members of the community. On behalf of a very grateful community, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Superintendent Wilkins and all the other police throughout this country and congratulate Superintendent Wilkins on a job well done.

Question agreed to.