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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 188

Mr HAYES (3:12 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information. Minister, how is the government supporting the Australian Federal Police making Australia safer?

Mr BRENDAN O’CONNOR (Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Minister for Privacy and Freedom of Information) —I thank the member for Fowler for his question and his genuine and longstanding interest in police matters and indeed in advancing the cause of our magnificent police forces in this country. Today is National Police Remembrance Day so it is an appropriate question. It is also appropriate to update the House on the commitment by this government to increase sworn officers in the Australian Federal Police. Three years ago we undertook to swell the ranks of the AFP by 500 sworn officers over a five-year period. We now have 335 extra officers of the Australian Federal Police, 200 ahead of schedule. That means we have officers dedicated not only to protecting our citizens but also to engaging with their counterparts within the region and around the world. As most people would know, the Australian Federal Police’s role has broadened over the 30 years since its creation. Therefore, this government continues to dedicate resources to ensure that it can do its job. We are also transitioning the police arrangements in our major international airports, ensuring that we move from a unified policing model to have the AFP be the primary police force for security at those airports.

As I said, it is National Police Remembrance Day and I would like, on behalf of the government, to take this opportunity to pay tribute to those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty and to pay my respects to those who have lost a family member or a loved one in such tragic circumstances. Only very recently we were reminded of this great sacrifice by the death of New South Wales Police officer Detective Constable William Crews. I am sure every member of the House shares great sympathy for Mr Crews’s family, friends and colleagues for their loss.

I am also relieved that the opposition has relented and reversed its original decision not to allow me to attend today’s National Police Remembrance Day ceremony by not allowing a pairing arrangement. I am happy to say that the opposition did change its original position, allowing not only the minister responsible for the Australian Federal Police but also the shadow minister to attend and lay a wreath for those fallen in the line of duty. This is an important day for the police around the country. It includes all law enforcement agencies in all jurisdictions. It is an important time for them and their families and I am looking forward to being accompanied by the shadow minister this afternoon to pay our respects.