Remarks at the National Police Remembrance Day 2017 Memorial March

29 Sep 2017
St Kilda Road, Melbourne, VIC
Prime Minister

Thank you very much.

Lieutenant Natasha Jager representing the Governor, Jacinta Allan, representing the Premier, Lisa Neville the Victorian Minister for Police, Matthew Guy the Leader of the Opposition and all your state Parliamentary colleagues. Jason Wood, Federal Member for Latrobe and a former Victorian police officer, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton, Acting Commander of the Australian Federal Police Paul Hopkins, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.

But above all the men and women of the police services of Australia, all of you here today and all of your brothers and sisters that you represent.

Today, on National Police Remembrance Day, we thank the service and the sacrifice of the men and women of our police forces.

We acknowledge that we are honouring 100 years of women serving in the Victorian Police too and we honour the sacrifice of the four women police officers who have died in the course of duty.

It is you, the police men and women of Australia, who put your lives on the line to keep us safe - to keep our communities safe, to keep Australia safe.

Our freedom, our security, our democracy depends on the rule of law and it is you who uphold and enforce that law. You uphold the right, you uphold the rule of law.

Today’s solemn remembrance calls to our mind the cost of that commitment, the human cost as you defend us and stand between us and those who seek to do us harm.

The death of a police officer is a personal and a family tragedy, but it is also an assault on the whole community. It is an assault on us all, because that officer served as you serve to defend us all, and the laws that keep us free.

We respect and we honour the work our police do each and every day to keep us safe.

Now in recent times, we have had bitter reminders of the threats police face in carrying out their duties. These are dangerous times for our police services and there can never be any set and forget in our approach to supporting our police services.

All of us, leaders gathered here today and around the nation owe it to you to give you every resource, every technology, every law that enables you to do your solemn task of protecting our democracy, of protecting our way of life from those who seek to threaten it.

We reflect on the events here in suburban Melbourne, in Endeavour Hills, in 2014; we reflect on the murder of Curtis Cheng in Parramatta in 2015; and more recently, the brutal and senseless killing of Brett Forte in Queensland. All of these tragic incidents and many others remind us of the threats you face every day and so we give thanks today for your work and your service.

Queensland Police Senior Constable Brett Forte was killed exactly four months ago, on the 29th of May, while he and his partner were pursuing a dangerous and wanted man on the Warrago Highway, near Toowoomba.

I want to commend the four other officers, Senior Constables Catherine Nielsen, Scott Hill, Stephen Barlow and Constable Brittany Poulton who showed incredible bravery in their response to the shooting. Their selflessness, love and courage as that of Senior Constable Brett Forte is an example for us all.

Senior Constable Forte is survived by his wife, Susan, also a police officer, and their three children and we say again today that we are with them in their grief, we will never forget their suffering, or their sacrifice.

I want also to acknowledge the courageous work of Victoria Police over the last 12 months. The Bourke Street Mall Attack, the Brighton Siege were two vicious and violent attacks on the people of Victoria and the people of Australia. These were attacks on all of us.

The work that you do as police to keep us all safe, the dedication and professionalism through your work, we thank you for, we thank you for that every day and we show that thanks at ceremonies like this but above all in our commitment to give you the resources you need.

We work closely together, more closely than ever before and I want to commend the work of all of our police services and our security and intelligence agencies, our Australian Federal Police in the seamless way, in a connected world you work more closely than ever to deal with the growing challenges we face.

We mourn with all the families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty. Our police could not do their work without the support of their families. Our police could never do that work without the love and support of their families and we thank them for that love and that solidarity.

We give thanks to all who serve; knowing the cost, as Graham Ashton reminded us, knowing that cost, but remembering the priceless essential service that you deliver, you keep us safe. We would not be the nation we are, we would not be a democracy under the rule of law without you and all of your colleagues around Australia, defending and upholding the right.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Australia: I thank you, I salute you.