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Tuesday, 8 February 2005
Page: 115

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (7:47 PM) —Tonight I rise to pay tribute to a fine young Australian who lost his life in the service of this country during the worthwhile endeavour of restoring law and order to the Solomon Islands. The government deplores the senseless and cold-blooded murder of AFP Protective Service Officer Adam Dunning in Honiara on 22 December 2004. Again, on behalf of the government, I extend my sympathy to Adam’s parents, Michael and Christine; to his sisters, Sarah and Emma; and to his partner, Elise. I had the privilege of meeting them on the return from my visit to the Solomon Islands—on which I was accompanied by the member for Barton—during which we repatriated Adam to Australia.

During that visit to the Solomon Islands I saw first-hand the fine young Australians that we have who are working in very difficult conditions in the Solomon Islands. I also met the people who worked with Adam, in particular those who were on his shift, and I must say that I was very impressed by the calibre of those people and the work that they are doing.

Adam was just 26 years old. He was a genuinely popular AFP protective service officer. Prior to his service in the Solomon Islands, he worked here at Parliament House and was held in the highest regard by his fellow officers. Prior to joining the AFP Protective Service in March 2003, Adam was a member of the Australian Defence Force, seeing service with the United Nations contingent to East Timor. Adam and his unit received a Meritorious Unit Citation for their work in East Timor, which included the securing of Dili airport. At every stage of his career, Adam exhibited great enthusiasm and a notable ability to defuse difficult situations. Indeed, on 18 December last year he was given a commendation in recognition of his efforts in disarming a man carrying a replica pistol in the Honiara magistrates court.

At 10 past three on the morning of 22 December 2004, Protective Service Officer Adam Dunning was shot and killed while on patrol protecting the Prime Minister’s residence and the Governor-General’s residence in Honiara. He was a fine young man, and he is sadly missed by his friends and colleagues and of course his family and loved ones. I had the privilege of attending his funeral and seeing first-hand the tributes paid to him. The one I recall readily was a tribute paid by one of his mates who saw him the night before he was killed and recalled quite clearly how Adam had asked him if he was right for money. That, I think, is the mark of that young man.

I am able to report to the Senate that two men have been arrested in the Solomon Islands in relation to the murder of Adam Dunning. These men have been charged and remanded in custody pending further court action. I can assure the Senate and the people of Australia that the government will not rest until justice is done and will continue to take measures to protect personnel who are serving overseas. We will not be intimidated by thugs or anyone who wants to use violence to attempt to deter us from doing the work that we must see through to completion in the Solomon Islands. Adam and those like him have helped reclaim the towns and villages of the Solomon Islands for the people. There have been over 5,000 arrests, over 3,700 weapons have been seized and the lawlessness which once threatened the viability of the Solomon Islands has been curtailed. Schools which were once closed have now been reopened, women and children are now free to walk the streets and a normal life can be resumed by the villagers on those islands.

The tragedy that occurred on 22 December last year was not in vain. Adam Dunning died for perhaps one of the highest goals—that is, to achieve law and order in a society so that people can live freely. That is precisely what he was and what his fellow officers are endeavouring to achieve in the Solomon Islands. It was a service to the people of the Solomon Islands, the region and also Australia. I want to place on record the government’s deep appreciation of the efforts of the men and women who are in the Solomon Islands carrying out what is a very important mission. I also place on record the government’s deep appreciation of the efforts of Adam Dunning, Australian Federal Police protective service officer.