Motion: National Police Remembrance Day

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 11:30 ): I move: 

That this house— 

(a) recognises today is National Police Remembrance Day; 

(b) values the unique work that the South Australia Police perform on behalf of our community; and 

(c) expresses its sadness for and deep gratitude to the families of those officers who have lost their lives while doing their duty. 

The shadow police minister, the member for Stuart, along with, I imagine, the police minister and many serving senior officers in the police force, are, as we speak, participating in a remembrance day ceremony at the Police Academy. Were that not the case I am sure the member for Stuart would also be contributing to this debate this morning. 

Today is National Police Remembrance Day. It is a tremendously important day, and we remember on this day the 61 officers who have lost their lives while serving the South Australian community as members of the South Australian police force. We have a police force that has an extraordinarily proud history. It is a police force that is held in such high regard that surveys of our community show it is the most highly regarded of any police service in the country, and we are a country fortunate to hold our police in high regard. 

Our South Australian police have been in operation since 1838, and we have had women serving in a police force for 101 years since 1915, when Kate Cox became the first head of the Women's Police Force. That proud history is founded on a history of service. Our police officers perform a unique role; when there is a danger in an area such that people are running from a situation, along with other emergency services police officers run to that situation to help out. Perhaps even more unique than that, when police officers go to work every day they do so knowing that any day their life could be at risk due to the malevolent actions of other people in the community. 

No-one else does that in their daily business in our South Australian community and I—and this house, I am sure—thank them for that. We also thank their families, because every day when a police officer goes out the door, leaving their family at home or going about their other business, their families all know, all share with each other, the unique perspective of a group of people who are not certain what is going to be facing their loved one that day. So we thank their families for the sacrifice they make by supporting their family members who serve as police officers. 

Today is the Feast Day of St Michael and All Angels; it is Michaelmas. St Michael is the patron saint of all police officers and I know, through the work I did as shadow police minister for quite a period of time, that our police officers go to work every day working as our angels. We thank them for that. Every year we support this motion in the house, and I think it is an important custom that we continue to do so, recognising the very important role of our police officers. We thank them. 

Ms DIGANCE ( Elder ) ( 11:34 ): I rise in support of the member for Morialta's motion. I think it is extremely important that this house does recognise National Police Remembrance Day and that it is celebrated today, 29 September. I am thankful for this opportunity to acknowledge the important role police officers play in our community and the significant sacrifices they regularly make in order to keep us safe. 

National Police Remembrance Day is a day for all Australians to pause and honour the bravery of officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. We also remember those who have passed away through illness and other circumstances. This year, 29 September marks the 27th National Police Remembrance Day and will be celebrated all over the state with ceremonies to remember and honour those South Australian officers who have died while on duty. 

South Australian police have been serving our community for over 177 years, and over that time tragically we have lost 61 officers while on duty. Also, sadly, the majority of the loss of life has been from motor vehicle accidents. The second most frequent cause of death while on duty for a serving police officer has been murder. In addition to those officers who have lost their life while on duty, there are the countless number of policemen and women who have been injured while on duty. I also pay tribute to them and to their contribution to our community. 

National Police Remembrance Day is a significant day of commemoration, where people can reflect on each individual police force and remember those officers killed on duty. It provides an opportunity to honour all police who have given their life serving the Australian community. Every loss of a police officer is a solemn reminder of the dangers they face in the line of duty, and the immense expectations that we as a community place on them to protect us. 

On Tuesday, thousands of people from right across Australia took part (this was some time ago, I think) in the Wall to Wall Ride for Remembrance, the annual tribute that honours the service and sacrifices of the many law enforcement officers killed while on duty. The riders were joined by wellwishers and police legatees for a short service at the Police Academy Wall of Remembrance, where the commissioner's baton was passed on to the riders for transfer to the National Police Memorial in Canberra. 

The SA Police pipes and drum band added to the spectacle, with the ride concluding with a service in Canberra on Saturday, where some 2,070 riders made the ride to the police memorial at Kings Park. All funds raised during the wall to wall ride for the South Australia Police go towards police legacies across Australia. The 61 SAPOL officers killed in the course of their service are deeply missed and very much appreciated by South Australians right across the community. We remember today that 29 September is National Police Remembrance Day, and we pay tribute to the 61 members of our South Australian police force who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while performing their duty. 

I also make mention of the sterling job we have seen with our police in the community over the last 24 hours. I am sure, like most of you, with this unprecedented storm we saw many police officers out directing traffic. While most of us were in our cars, warm and dry, they were standing out in this very unpredictable weather making sure we were all kept safe on the roads. With that current event, I would also like to thank the police for what they do for us to ensure that we as a community stay safe; they ensure our safety. With that, I support this motion. 

Mr GARDNER ( Morialta ) ( 12:17 ): I thank the other members of both sides of the house who have risen to support the motion during this debate. Those 61 officers who have fallen while serving the South Australian community as police officers have done so in all sorts of different circumstances, from being caught up in natural disaster situations or car accidents, through to facing the dangerous actions of criminals and terrorists, and indeed while serving as peacekeepers abroad and in South Australia. 

Of course, we have lost officers in all of the three centuries—the 1800s, the 1900s and this century—that the service has existed. What they have shared across their 177 years of service is an unwavering commitment to their community, such as that demonstrated by police officers over the course of the recent storms and the current storms. I echo the comments made by many members in thanking our police officers for the tremendous effort they have put in to keeping our community safe during the current extraordinary weather conditions, along with other emergency services workers, who have no doubt been responsible for saving dozens of lives that might otherwise have been lost. 

With those words, I commend the motion to the house and once again place on the record my sorrow for the loss of those 61 officers. For those whose families are still with us, my condolences to the families and my thanks for the ongoing work of all of our officers. 

Motion carried.