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National Police Remembrance Day Service, National Police Memorial, Parkes ACT

Good afternoon.

I acknowledge that the Service today is being held on the land of the Ngunnawal People, and I pay my respects to their elders past and present.

I also acknowledge:

  • Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, Senator for the ACT, representing the Prime Minister of Australia
  • Ms Alicia Payne MP, Federal Member for Canberra, representing the Leader of the Opposition
  • Commissioner Reece Kershaw APM, Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, and Members of the Police Forces
  • Families, friends and colleagues in particular of those being honoured today
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is indeed a privilege for Linda and me to be with you and to participate in the National Police Remembrance Day Service.

Today we remember and honour those Police Officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice and extend our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.

While we are unable to come together physically at the National Memorial in Canberra this year, we are able to come together online. It is important that we do that, and I thank the Commissioner for ensuring that today’s Service went ahead.

Let me state emphatically, though, that a virtual Service in no way diminishes its significance. Today is National Police Remembrance Day … a day to pause, to reflect and to honour.

Our Police have been very visible in recent times, on the front lines in the wake of natural disasters, during the pandemic and in enforcing the public order. Indeed it reminds me of many occasions at Goulburn at the New South Wales Police Graduation Day. I would remind the graduates that the decision and Oath they took on that day separated them from their community, made them protectors of the community as the community needed. And we have seen that played out so many times in so many different ways across our country over the last two years.

In challenging times it behoves us to remember that when Australians see the blue uniform they are reassured. It is symbol of strength and reliability.

Today is about the people who wear that uniform. The fine men and women of our Police Forces.

Many of you are participating in this Service online. Others are at work, away from public gaze, but still helping to protect us and to keep us safe. The remainder are on the beat.

Linda and I, over the course of many years, have been welcomed into the Police Family. What a privilege that has been. In briefings and at ceremonial events and official engagements we have been made aware of the challenges and difficulties that Police encounter on a daily basis.

Much is asked of our Police men and women.

The business of policing is multi-faceted and inherently dangerous, as we know.

Yet, as Police Officers, you are not deterred by danger.

You do what is required of you, to protect us and to keep us safe.

And that is a selfless contribution.

Beneath that uniform, Police men and women are just people. They might be strong and dedicated but even the strongest and bravest are still vulnerable and human.

Your service is not without personal cost. In acknowledging that, we ask that you take care of yourselves and of each other. To any serving or former police officer, or member of the policing family, if you are struggling with your mental health please reach out. Help is available.

Today we honour the memory of 10 brave police officers.

Senior Constable David Masters, Queensland Police Service – who lost his life when struck by a stolen motor vehicle as he attempted to conduct a road stop on the Bruce Highway in June.

Senior Constable Kelly Foster, New South Wales Police Force – who lost her life while attempting to save the life of a member of the public who was drowning in the Wollangambe Canyon in January.

Detective Senior Constable Michael James Cursiter, Western Australia Police Force – who suffered a fatal heart attack following the pursuit of an offender in November 2020.

And the seven historic additions to the National Memorial.

From Victoria … First Constable George Michael Willis.

From Western Australia … Constable Richard Hughes.

From Tasmania … 

•    Chief District Constable Edward Rainsford
•    District Constable Michael Blackburne
•    Constable William Doodie
•    Constable George Lucas, and
•    Constable and Boatman Ferdinand Christopher Hauth.

All 10 Officers were policing for a safer community.

To the family members of Senior Constable Masters, Senior Constable Foster, and Detective Senior Constable Cursiter …

I hope you gain some comfort from today’s Service.

We share your grief. We mourn your loss. And we pledge to stand by you always. The Police Family is tight-knit.

While we cannot comfort you in-person, please know that you are in our thoughts and that, through today’s ceremony and your loved ones’ addition to the National Memorial, the memory of their service will always be preserved.

They joined the Police because they wanted to protect us and to keep us safe.

They policed for a safer Australia.

May they rest in peace.

We thank them for their Service to our nation.

Thank you.