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Monday, 22 September 2008
Page: 8171

Mr ZAPPIA (9:26 PM) —It is a privilege to be able to stand here and support the motion from the member for Werriwa and to endorse the remarks of all the speakers who have addressed this motion tonight. The comments they have made are very true and very valid, and they are comments that are most appropriate under the circumstances.

It is also interesting that it was only today that many members of this House were debating the Safe Work Australia Bill. In the context of that debate a number of members made reference to the fact that all families expect that, when their husband, their wife or their partner—whatever the case is—leaves in the morning to go to work, they will return home safely. It is interesting to note that, when it comes to the police men and women of this country, that fear would occur in the minds of the family members—whether it be the wife, the children, the parents, the brothers or the sisters—of every police officer who serves this country. Each day, when they depart to go out to work, they ask themselves, ‘Will they return home? If so, will they return safely?’ When the men and women of our defence forces enlist, we quite rightly commend them for putting their lives on the line in order to make our lives safer. Likewise, so do the men and women of the police departments of our nation. So this motion tonight is most appropriate.

I want to talk a little about my experience with the police department in South Australia. I have had a long association with police officers in that state. Firstly, let me say that in South Australia, since the statistics have been recorded, some 58 serving police officers have lost their lives since 1803. To the families of all of those officers, albeit that some of them would have lost their lives some time ago, I certainly extend my condolences to them. In particular, on 26 July 1990 in the city of Salisbury—I recall I was a serving councillor for the city at the time—Officer David Barr lost his life at the Salisbury railway station in the course of his duties. I can recall the mood of the town at the time and the feeling that went through the town—that a police officer had in fact lost his life in the course of doing his job of keeping the rest of the community safe. It was not only the reaction from the community that showed their gratitude for police officers generally, but it was also an event which has not been forgotten in that city. Clearly, other lives have been lost, but the fact that a police officer lost his life in the course of carrying out his duties is something that has not been forgotten and is quite often talked about.

In the time that is left to me, I very quickly want to mention Officer Derek McManus, who was shot several times in the course of a siege in the Barossa Valley. I got to know Derek during his rehabilitation, something that I mentioned earlier in debate on the Safe Work Australia Bill. When you consider that these people have put their lives on the line for us, you then very much appreciate just how important it is for the rest of the community to acknowledge them. On another occasion I wish to speak more about the role of the police officers within our community and throughout Australia. Once again, I commend the member for Werriwa on this motion.

Debate interrupted.