National Police Remembrance Day | SPEECH


That this house—

(a) recognises that 29 September 2015 is National Police Remembrance Day;

(b) acknowledges the grea t work of the South Australian p olice and the Australian Federal Police in protecting our communities; and

(c) remembers those officers who have lost their lives or have been seriously injured while on duty.

Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 12:24 :08 ): It gives me great pleasure to support the member for Little Para in moving this motion. I know that all members who have had the opportunity to speak do so very genuinely and I am confident that all other members who have not had the chance to speak today would also support this motion unanimously in this chamber.

Police work is risky. I suppose the difficulty for police is the risk that the risk itself might come up that day, if that makes sense. Some days for a police officer can be pretty straightforward, in the same way as they can be for most people in their work. Occasionally, though, a day for a police officer will be very risky and very dangerous. The key is that police officers just cannot plan for this.

They cannot say, ‘Today I’ll take the easy path,’ or, ‘Today I’m feeling fit and wide awake and energetic and I’ll take a risky path today.’ It is just not an option for police officers. Every single day they face the real probability that today might be a very dangerous day. That is a very difficult thing, I am sure, for police officers and their families to try to get their head around—and yet they do it and they do it day after day. I thank them very genuinely and very warmly for that.

Policing is very much about trust. Our parliament creates laws and our courts try to deal with people who fall foul of those laws, either deliberately or accidentally. The police are the people in the middle with a great deal of authority and a great deal of power with regard to implementing the laws.

One of the things that is critical, and always in the forefront of my mind with regard to policing, is that the police need to be given the opportunity to use their judgement when enforcing laws. I think that overwhelmingly they do that appropriately. Of course, is it not always possible that every single officer on every single day does it just right but having that discretion about how to enforce the laws our parliament creates I think is incredibly important, and that the public has trust in the police to use that discretion well is incredibly important.

Year after year, our South Australian police officers are judged by the public of South Australia as the most trusted police force of all the states in Australia. I think it is important that they are recognised for that. Again, it is not that they can get it right every single time. but overwhelmingly they do get it right, and I think that is very important.

I would like to pay particular tribute to regional police officers. Much like people who work in other professional areas, usually when you work in a regional area you need to be better at a wider range of skills. General practitioners in a medical business are good examples of that. If you are a city-based GP, you can really confine the work you do and limit it to a fairly narrow scope if you want to. However, if you are a country-based GP, you need to deal with whatever is going to come through the door and you have no choice. Country-based GPs do things that only specialists in the city would do—and policing is no different.

Police officers in the country and regional areas, particularly in very small, often one-officer stations in regional areas, need to be prepared to deal with absolutely anything that comes their way that day, in a way that their city-based colleagues do not have to because there is always much more support very close at hand. So, I would like to pay particular tribute to the regional-based police officers who serve us. When I say ‘us’, I do not just mean regionally-based people like me; I mean all of us.

Even city-based people can benefit from country-based police officers if they go on a holiday in a region. It might be that, unfortunately, you are involved in a car crash or it might be that you have some crime committed against you in a regional area. It will be a regional police officer who will support you in that way, and they need to be more flexible, more diverse, more broadly skilled than their city-based colleagues. I really do commend them for that.

On Police Remembrance Day I look forward to attending a service at Port Augusta with my friends who are local serving police officers there, and also with other friends who are not police officers but who will come to show their respect and support for the police at the service at 11 o’clock on 29 September. I encourage all members of parliament to participate in their local electorates if it is at all possible for them to do so.

The last thing I would like to say on this topic is that a couple of years ago I was able to visit the national memorial to police in Canberra on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, and it is a truly beautiful memorial, and I really encourage all members of the South Australian parliament to do that when they get the opportunity. All of us have a reason to go to Canberra for meetings of one sort or another with our federal colleagues at some time throughout the year, so I encourage anyone who has an extra 15 or 20 minutes on a trip to Canberra to call past the national police memorial, which is a really special, beautiful and appropriate memorial.

It is national and not just for ACT police or just for Australian Federal Police but actually for police across the entire nation, and it is a wonderful way to mark respect and pay tribute to the officers across Australia who have lost their life in their service as police officers, and of course the people who are most important to us, the South Australian police officers, who have done so are respected at that memorial too.