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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 20915

Address at the opening of the Police Federation of Australia offices Manuka, ACT

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/09/2003

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 20915

Well thank you very much Mr Alexander. My ministerial colleague Chris Ellison, other parliamentary colleagues, the Commissioner of the Victorian Police, the Commissioner of the ACT Police, ladies and gentlemen. I wanted to come tonight to be associated with this occasions for two reasons. To congratulate the Federation on the national cohesion that it';s demonstrated since it was formed. It';s not every day of the week that I';m invited to officiate at the opening of a building for a registered trade union and I';m rather touched by that. I really am. It';s adding a new dimension to my life and I really relish the opportunity. But the other reason I wanted to be here tonight was to take this chance to speak on behalf of all Australians in expressing my respect, my admiration, and my continued support for the men and women of the various police forces of our nation. And there is no better place to do it than here in Canberra in the national capital at the opening of a building which brings together the various state and territory associations into a federation representing the men and women of the various police forces of Australia.

Police are the line between our quiet, orderly, happy and contented lives, and chaos and disaster and tragedy. And I am very genuine in saying that there are few things that upset me more than to learn and read and see on television of the death of a police officer in the course of duty. There is something particularly gripping for me and I know to many Australians that people who have their own families, who have their own lives and their own hopes, and those lives are taken away by the acts of criminals in our community. And it';s part of a democracy that there should be a lively debate about the balance to be struck between the powers of police and the individual liberties of the citizen and we have to keep that balance, and in trying to strike that balance we must always pay regard to the tremendous risks that police take and the tremendous responsibilities that they assume on behalf of the community in protecting us from crime.

The President, Mr Alexander, spoke of the growth of and the improvement in techniques available. I have to agree with him that the advent of DNA is the most remarkable development in policing work in more than a century and all of you here today are even more aware of that reality than I am. In different ways the federal government has become more involved thorough things like CrimTrac and so forth in promoting a national response. And the way in which we were able across political boundaries to reach agreement on the establishment of the Australian Crime Commission and the cooperative approach which is being taken in relation to that.

We will always see in Australia because of the history of the various associations and the history and the different cultures of the individual police forces we will always see separate state in particular identities. But increasingly we do have to address these issues as Australians on a national level. Crime does not respect international borders let alone state borders. Crime does not respect different localities, crime does not respect the sensitivities of individual jurisdictions and that applies in relation to state governments as much as it applies in relation to individual police forces. And therefore having a national perspective but having it in a way that tries to draw forth the cooperation of the Commonwealth government and the states is our goal.

So ladies and gentlemen, I';m very happy to be here today. I want to thank you on behalf of a grateful nation for that you are here in a representative capacity of the members of the various police forces do to protect us and to preserve the Australian way of life which is so precious and so very dear to us. I';m delighted that we';ve made progress in relation to the memorial here in Canberra. It will be a very very fitting occasion when that is ready for opening to honour the more than 700, who the President said, men and women of the various police forces that have died in the service of our community.

So in that spirit and recognising as I learnt this afternoon of the extraordinary generosity of your members who raised something I understand in the order of $130,000 to assist the relatives of those who died, of course it included so many people of the New York Police Department on the 11th of September. I know I am addressing a group of people who are not only generous and thoughtful in relation to their fellow Australians, but also police in other parts of the world who suffer in the defence of a civil society and in defence of law and order. I thank all of you for your contribution. And I have very great pleasure, I guess by removing the piece of cloth, in declaring this building open and I';m sure it will be the hive and the launching pad of much lobbying of the federal government and I';m sure that my colleagues will get very used to over the years the staff who will work here. Thank you again and I have great pleasure in declaring this building open.

[Ends]

Transcript 20915