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Monday, 14 September 2009
Page: 9503

Mr HAYES (9:54 PM) —The 29th of September each year holds a very special significance for police throughout Australia. It is on this day that National Police Remembrance Day is observed and, significantly, it is a time for members of the police force across the nation and the community to pause and honour the lives and memories of the many fine men and women who have had their lives tragically cut short in the execution of their duties. This day also recognises the unique nature of policing and the dangers that police face in their daily duties. We know that the primary role of police officers is to provide for the safety and security of our communities, and it is on this day and at this time that we reflect on and remember those who have unquestionably paid the ultimate sacrifice in providing us with that safety and security.

I take the opportunity to acknowledge the continued efforts and hard work of all the police associations across the nation, as well as our colleagues in New Zealand, along with the Police Federation of Australia, who persist in raising the profile of Police Remembrance Day and embedding the occasion in the hearts and minds of police members and the community generally. This day holds significance on the national policing calendar, and with the passing of years larger crowds, now numbering in the thousands, have attended Police Remembrance Day ceremonies across the nation. I have had the opportunity in the last year to lay a wreath at the Wall of Remembrance in the Domain, Sydney, together with the commissioner, Andrew Scipione, and afterwards attended a service at St Andrew’s Cathedral.

It is with some great delight that I stand here tonight, almost 12 months since I last spoke about the issue of Police Remembrance Day, to report that for the second year running there have been no police deaths in Australia. At this point I can say that that is rather a unique situation, given that it has not occurred since 1872. Whilst the record is both encouraging and remarkable, there is no room for complacency. I congratulate all state and territory governments for their continuing work to provide our police forces with the resources and support they need to do their outstanding work. In particular, I would like to lend my support to the decision made by the New South Wales government, which will invest $10 million to provide tasers to all front-line police officers in New South Wales. The benefits of this announcement are enormous. Putting tasers in the hands of police who need them most will save lives. Equally importantly, it will also help dramatically decrease the number of assaults on police and ultimately save their lives as well.

May I also offer my deepest condolences to the families and colleagues of the two police officers from New Zealand who tragically lost their lives in the past 12 months. On 5 May this year Constable Len Snee of Napier and, on 11 September 2008, Sergeant Don Wilkinson in Mangere made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their communities. Additionally, I have been informed that this year there will be an additional 10 names added to the National Police Memorial in Canberra. All 10 are historical Tasmanian deaths that occurred between 1817 and 1944.

I recognise and appreciate the tremendous work that our police do and I greatly value the difficult and often dangerous job that all our officers perform. Policing comes with a degree of risk that most of us, thankfully, will never have to face. It takes a special kind of person and a special kind of courage to commit to and wear the police uniform. My local community is truly indebted to the men and women who do so, and I want to assure every police officer across the nation—and particularly the 600 local police officers attached to Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden and Macquarie Fields local area commands—that we do not take them for granted. I encourage all members to join with me in remembering those police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. On behalf of my colleagues and the community, and to all those men and women who have given their lives for our safety, may they rest in peace.