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Thursday, 1 March 2012
Page: 2552

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (16:50): I rise with great pride today to pay tribute to the members of the New South Wales Police Force, which celebrates its 150th anniversary today. I felt very proud to see the public line the streets of Sydney this morning to watch hundreds of officers march through the city to commemorate this special day. Our police force is made up of thousands of hard-working, dedicated and courageous people. Today is their day and they should feel very proud of their profession and the great work they do in our communities.

I was a member of the New South Wales Police Force for nearly 25 years. Whilst my career was very rewarding, I can relate to the challenging and confronting situations that our officers face on a daily basis. Attending my first autopsy, finding my first deceased person in the middle of summer, the first time I attended a fatal motor vehicle accident—these are experiences I will never forget. Our police officers deal with these heartbreaking circumstances on a daily basis. They leave their own families at home to go out and risk their lives to protect others. I join many residents in Macarthur who believe that the fine men and women in our police force deserve the utmost respect and admiration. That is why I stand here today to help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the New South Wales Police Force. The anniversary is held on 1 March because on this day in 1862 the independent police units of the colony were amalgamated into the single New South Wales Police Force. The celebrations kicked off in Sydney today with the NSW police banner being led by a police marine contingent across Sydney Harbour to The Rocks. A sea-of-blue marching contingent then carried the banner from the Marine Area Command before marching up George Street to Town Hall. More than 800 police men and women took part in the march. This included representatives from all over New South Wales, including the Campbelltown, Camden and St Marys local area commands from my electorate and the neighbouring Macquarie Fields LAC, which is part of the Macarthur region. Today's march was the biggest police march of its type ever held in New South Wales. This morning, New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that today's march would be a fitting tribute to the police force that has served the people of New South Wales so well since its inception in 1862. I could not agree with him more.

These officers serve our community with great integrity and honour. I hope that one day everyone will appreciate the sacrifices they make and the risks they take to protect us. Yesterday's Daily Telegraph featured a story about Senior Sergeant John Thompson, who celebrates 50 years in the police force this year. He began his career in 1962. I was fortunate enough to work with Senior Sergeant Thompson towards the end of my career in the police force. He comes from a long line of dedicated police officers. Sergeant Thompson's great-great-grandfather John Carroll caught the bushranger Captain Moonlight. His grandfather and his father were also police officers. Sergeant Thompson is now the second-longest serving police officer in New South Wales—but he works alongside his good mate Sergeant Bob Boyd, who is the longest-serving member in the New South Wales Police Force. I am sure there is a little bit of rivalry there to see who is going to stay the longest.

I mention Sergeant Thompson today because he is a fine example of the dedication and commitment that our police officers give to the job, and it is not an easy job to do. Far too many officers have made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the line of duty. Today is also an opportunity to remember our fallen officers, those who have died while serving their community. One in particular that I would like to mention is a courageous officer from the Campbelltown LAC. Highway patrol officer Senior Constable Jim Affleck was run down during a police pursuit along the F5 in 2001. His death was a shock to Jim's family, his fellow police officers and my entire community. Senior Constable Affleck, like all of the brave officers who have been killed on duty, left his own family at home to go out and protect others. Unless you have worked in the police force or have a family member who does, it is hard to comprehend the danger these men and women put themselves in every day to keep the community safe.

Today I would also like to make special mention of all of the police men and women working tirelessly in my electorate. Macarthur owes a great deal to these police officers for their ongoing commitment to protecting our community. Today is a very special day for the New South Wales Police Force and I am very proud to stand here to pay tribute to all of our courageous police officers—both past and present. I am sure that they will celebrate this milestone with great pride. In the words of the Police Commissioner Scipione, the New South Wales Police Force has 'much to celebrate and much to remember from the last 150 years'.

I am proud to have been part of New South Wales policing history, just as I am proud of all officers who have served their communities. On behalf of the people of Macarthur, I thank those who currently serve our community. You deserve the highest respect for the work you do. I also congratulate past and present members of the police force as they celebrate 150 years of serving the public today. I wish them all the best as they continue their fight to make our communities a safer place to live.