Address to the National Police Remembrance Day Service

29 Sep 2016
National Police Memorial, Canberra
Prime Minister

Today - National Police Remembrance Day - we solemnly reflect on the service and the sacrifice of our police officers.

We honour the memory of those who have given their lives in the service of our community.

Our personal safety, the security of our homes and our businesses, our democracy itself - depend on the rule of law.

And it is you, our police, who uphold the rule of law. Together with our defence forces, security and intelligence services you put your lives on the line to keep us safe - seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

In an increasingly connected and integrated world, you are working closely with our partners across the world and often serving in other jurisdictions to maintain the rule of law and build their local capacity to do so.

The work you do, all of you, the men and women of the Australian police, is inspired by a love of this nation and a passionate determination to keep all your fellow Australians safe.

In April 1989, during the Conference of Commissioners of Police of Australasia and the South West Pacific Region, the decision was made to support a national remembrance day for police officers killed on duty.

That conference, which included New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and all Australian jurisdictions, unanimously agreed that a service of remembrance and thanksgiving should be held each year for police officers killed, or who otherwise died on duty.

The service is held, as we’ve heard, on the 29th of September each year - the feast day of the Archangel, Saint Michael, the Patron Saint of Police.

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the dedication of the National Police Memorial in Canberra, in tribute to the police officers who have paid the ultimate price while carrying out their duties.

Seven new names have been added to the wall today - two of whom lost their lives in the past year.

New South Wales Police Sergeant Geoffrey Richardson died in a motor vehicle accident on the 5th of March, 2016. Sergeant Richardson was on his way to assist colleagues who were in pursuit of an offending vehicle in that area.

Curtis Cheng was murdered in a shocking act of terrorism perpetrated by a 15-year-old boy outside the NSW Police Parramatta Headquarters on the 2nd of October, 2015.

Their families are here today and we are with you in your grief, we mourn with you, we embrace you in solidarity.

The other five members are retrospective additions.

From the Queensland Police, Senior Constable Henry Fetherston died on the 23rd of February, 1885, from injuries sustained when he fell from his horse during the execution of his duties.

Constable Benjamin Ebbitt died on the 18th of May, 1894, from injuries sustained when he was assaulted during an arrest.

Sergeant Thomas Heaney died on the 27th of September, 1906, from injuries sustained when he was assaulted during an arrest.

From the Tasmanian Police, Senior Constable Kenneth Shaw died on the 8th of November, 1982, from injuries sustained when he was kicked during an arrest.

And from the Northern Territory Police, Senior Constable First Class Michael Read died on the 5th of December, 2014, after suffering a heart attack while participating in annual defensive tactics re-qualification.

The addition of these seven names brings the total number of officers listed on the National Police Memorial to 764. We honour all of them. We honour all of them and we thank them. We mourn with their families and are united in our solidarity with them.

Today we honour not only the two men who have died in the past year and the others that have been added to the names, but each of the 764 members of police forces who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Supporting every police officer, grieving for every one who has fallen, are their families and their friends.

We mourn with and comfort those who grieve, and we thank and honour all our police families whose love and friendship enables our police to serve our community.

Everything we hold dear - the safety of our families, the sanctity of our homes, our ability to do business with confidence and trust and our parliamentary democracy itself - all of it depends on the rule of law which you uphold.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Australia - I thank you, I salute you, I honour you for your service.