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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8170

Ms MARINO (9:21 PM) —I rise to show respect for Police Remembrance Day and to support the motion by the member for Werriwa. On a daily basis, police officers risk their lives in the name of the community and the safety of individuals. In discharging their duties, some of our police officers have given the ultimate sacrifice—their lives. The Australian police commissioners initiated Police Remembrance Day in 1989 to honour those police killed on duty. It is held on 29 September to coincide with the feast day of St Michael, the patron saint of police officers.

In 1998, as part of the response to the murders of Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rod Miller, Blue Ribbon Day was born. On 29 September every year, in each state and territory police jurisdiction across Australia and the south-west Pacific region, Blue Ribbon Day coincides with Police Remembrance Day, not only to remember those killed while on duty but also to show strong community support for all police around the world. Law and order is one of the cornerstones of the society we live in, operating in tandem with this very parliament and all others in Australia. Without a body to ensure that laws are followed, they become ineffectual. Since 1803, 726 police officers have died in the line of duty—45 of those in the last 10 years. That is 45 advocates of law and order since 1998 who have died in the line of duty or as a result of simply doing their job—that of being a police officer.

I would now like to honour the memory of a local officer who worked in my electorate of Forrest. On 27 November 2004, Senior Constable Jamie Pearson, in the company of another officer, was performing highway patrol duties between Bunbury and Busselton. The pair went to undertake a routine vehicle stop when they collided with another vehicle. Senior Constable Pearson did not survive. In WA there are over 5,300 uniformed officers just like Senior Constable Pearson. That is approximately one police officer for every 400 people in Western Australia; 218 of these officers are in my local district of the South West. In 2007-08, these 218 men and women dealt with over 260 aggravated assaults, 140 aggravated sexual assaults, two cases of murder, five cases of manslaughter, 34 aggravated robberies—six of which involved firearms—285 motor car thefts and 89 cases of arson. These officers are extraordinary people who strongly uphold our nation’s moral values. They are highly skilled individuals of whom we as a nation are proud. What makes these people truly extraordinary is that underneath the uniforms of these men and women is a person with a wife, a husband, a mother, a father, children and friends. Daily they leave their loved ones to serve their community. Some do not return.

It has been most distressing to note the slow dissipation of respect for our police officers. In WA, assaults on officers have been on the rise over the last few years. The punishment for these crimes has been too lenient and the police receive too little support for the dangerous work they do. I welcome every measure that will assist the effectiveness of WA police and benefit the WA population. But no measure can help the officers who have died or the families of officers who have already given their lives in the name of law and order and the protection of our communities. On September 29 we will honour the officers who did not return—Senior Constable Pearson and all the other brave members of the police force who have lost their lives. We offer our sincere respect to their memory and our sympathy to their families. We will salute their memory and offer every support to the men and women currently serving in the police force—those members who are so dedicated to keeping our communities safe.