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Condolences speech to House of Representatives

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP

Mr DREYFUS (Isaacs—Attorney-General and Cabinet Secreta ry) (12:26): I rise today to join the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and all members of this House to express my deepest condolences to the families of Constable Matthew Arnold, Constable Rachel McCrow and Mr Alan Dare, three people who went to help others and lost their lives in a cold-blooded ambush—three lives cut short, three futures denied, three families left heartbroken at a time when families across the country are preparing to join together to celebrate Christmas. For these three families, there will be an empty seat and grief instead of celebration. We think of their loved ones who grieve their loss. We grieve with them.

The police involved in this tragedy were dedicated members of the Queensland Police Service. Any police officer will tell you they are members of the broader police family, and there is no police officer unaffected by this tragedy. Today we pay tribute to those who responded to this terrible attack with quick action, kindness, grace and compassion. This includes the police officers and other first responders who arrived at the scene ready to help. The communities of Weiambilla, Tara and Chinchilla have suffered an unspeakable tragedy. We will stand with them. Today we recognise and honour Constable Randall Kirk and Constable Keely Brough, who, in the face of grave danger, survived, demonstrating extraordinary bravery and ensuring their colleagues could be retrieved. They will walk through life with the scars and memories of that day. We will walk with them.

Like so many Australians do every day, Mr Dare went to check on a neighbour, thinking he could lend a hand in their time of need. No-one should meet their fate when going to the aid of others. We must never accept that police attending a property or a neighbour coming to offer help will be met with such violence, such brutality. The response from the community, the outpouring of love, the way we've come together, shows Australians never will.

Yesterday evening I was honoured to join the Prime Minister and the acting Federal Police commissioner, Ian McCartney, to lay a wreath at the National Police Memorial in Canberra. I acknowledge Acting Commissioner McCartney, who joins us today, representing all Australian police. The National Police Memorial is simple, unobtrusive, and a place of contemplation. It sits just across the lake from here, a wall of touchstones bearing the names of officers who've died in the line of duty. Sadly, the names of Constable Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow will now be added to the long list of fallen officers.

As I stood with police officers paying their respects, I reflected on the fact that each of these brave men and women accept the risk of danger every day. They and those who love them know there may be a day they won't come home from work, and yet, each day, they get up and put their uniform on. Despite the fear, the pain of losing colleagues and the worry of their loved ones, they continue to protect and serve their communities. We honour Constable Arnold and Constable McCrow, alongside all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. We also honour Mr Dare, who went to his neighbour's property to see if he could lend a hand. This has been a sad week. The House joins as one in grief to mark these three brave Australians.