Queensland Police Service Remembrance Dinner 2016
Minister Byrne; Commissioner Stewart and fellow senior QPS leaders; Commissioner Barnett; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure and honour that I join members of the Commissioned Officers’ and Sergeants’ Messes of the Queensland Police Service, and their partners and guests, for this special day in the QPS year.
To begin on a lighter note, I can report to this audience that Gavel, the police dog that we at Government House are helping socialise prior to training, is now a valued and experienced member of staff.
My only mild misgiving is that he features on Government House social media more than I do.
Gavel’s likely future as a working police dog, however, brings us to this evening’s more serious purpose.
We gather here tonight to honour the work of all QPS officers who serve their communities with courage and dedication – in full knowledge of the very real personal risk embedded in the contemporary role of a Queensland police officer.
We acknowledge the crucial support provided to the men and women of the QPS by their families.
We honour especially police officers who have been injured in body or spirit in the course of their duties, and extend to them our best wishes.
We pay particular and abiding tribute to the memory of those police officers in Queensland who have lost their lives while doing their duty.
The Candlelight Vigil for National Police Remembrance Day, which I attended on Wednesday, was a moving commemoration of these tragic events.
It expressed great sadness at the loss of these fine officers, and the continuing admiration and respect we hold for them. It demonstrated strong and on-going support for the officers’ loved ones, and the importance of camaraderie in sustaining the broader QPS family.
The commemoration also brought to mind the community’s instinctive reaction to these tragedies, which is the real measure of the high regard in which the QPS is held by the vast majority of Queenslanders.
We in Queensland are immensely fortunate that there continue to be men and women who see the protection of the community’s security and safety as an honourable calling.
The dedication and tenacity that QPS officers display in this respect is most visible to the broader community in high-profile matters such as, most recently, developments in the Tiahleigh Palmer case – and Baden Clay, and Cowan. But in fact this level of commitment to community safety reaches right through the Service.
I cite an example that epitomises both this contribution to community, and the dangers of police work. It was provided by one of the Government House team whose father was a Queensland policeman for 40 years.
It was only after this policeman retired that he admitted to some of the dangers he had faced. Typically, he shrugged off an incident in which the barrel of a loaded rifle was thrust into his face, adding drily: ‘It was alright. I knew the bloke.’
This gentleman passed away peacefully in his eighties. In the eulogy at his funeral, his son – Michael, who drafted tonight’s speech which I gratefully endorse – encouraged the congregation to honour his father’s memory in specific ways. One of them was this:
‘Whenever you see police officers on duty, remember that their job is no less confronting, difficult and dangerous than it was in my father’s time, and pray that, every day, they return safely to the embrace of their families and friends.’
I wholeheartedly commend those words and thoughts to Queenslanders.
And I thank all those who serve in the Queensland Police Service for their enormous contribution to the safety and well-being of our communities.