Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (11:14): I rise to support the motion by the Minister for Police:
That this house—
(a) recognises that National Police Remembrance Day is held on 28 September 2018;
(b) acknowledges that this day honours the memory of police men and women who have given their lives in the service of the community;
(c) appreciates the ongoing dedication of sworn and non-sworn SAPOL members across the city, suburbs and regions of South Australia; and
(d) thanks all South Australian police for the great work they do in making South Australia a safe place to live.
I come from a regional electorate, with police stations spread far and wide, and as the electoral cycles rotate police stations come in or go out, but over time I have represented the Mallee stations of Pinnaroo and Lameroo. With the redistribution, they went into Chaffey for four years. My southern boundary is very close to the Coonalpyn and Tailem Bend stations and there is also Murray Bridge, which is the main station servicing the area. That station services an area right up through the Riverland, connecting to Berri, Renmark and Loxton. With my boundary moving up towards Mount Barker, I am having a bit more to do with linking through to Goolwa and the Goolwa Police Station, as I did in the past when I represented Goolwa for two terms.
I am actively working with police on issues, some of which are civil matters, and it is nice to know I can ask for a contact and meet with those police and they bring in other officers as needed. The other day, I met with the officer filling in for the superintendent in Mount Barker and a couple of other officers, which was very handy. It was more than I expected. I expected to meet with just one officer on the issue that I had brought to their attention.
I acknowledge all the superintendents I have dealt with over the years, including the ones I dealt with pre-politics. I mention retired superintendent John Attwood. I was involved in a large fundraising activity in the upper South-East with the sand blasters. We have really good dialogue when operating with police at all levels, whether dealing with licensing here in Adelaide or local police like John. The other day I ran into John at an awards night for Neighbourhood Watch recognising the valuable service that citizens play in assisting police in being the eyes and ears out in the community.
Even though the police do absolutely magnificent work, they cannot be everywhere all the time. John and I reflected on those times years ago when we worked together. He was talking about how we dealt with the Hells Angels at Ponde. I said, 'How did you manage that, mate?' He said, 'I just let them know that I would be walking in unarmed,' and you work it out. I think that takes a certain amount of courage—I think that takes great courage. I absolutely salute him for doing that, and other police officers who work in challenging environments, to say the least.
During my time as a member of parliament, it is so good to have the mobile number of the current superintendent in Murray Bridge in my phone and the acknowledgement that if I need to ring them at any time of day or night I can do that. I have done that when I have been driving home to Coomandook and I hear something on the UHF radio that there is (as there was one night) a truck on the wrong side of the road, heading against the traffic. I contacted the super and said, 'You have to get a patrol out here pretty quick.' They may have been contacted in other ways, but it is nice that I can just go to the direct number and say, 'What's happening?'
I would like to acknowledge the current superintendent out there, James Blandford, and the work he does with his officers right across the community. We have a really good and open relationship. We have regular meetings, but at any time, if I need to find out what is going on with a certain issue, I make that contact. Sadly, we have seen some evil crimes in the Murraylands where people have been murdered. I acknowledge the work that the police have to do around these evil crimes, but I also want to acknowledge the general work that they do.
It has been mentioned before that police do not know what they are coming up against. I know that for a recent murder they raided 100 houses in Murray Bridge. Who would know what they would get on the other side? I know they were out in force but, at times, when police officers go out to an event—and sadly sometimes these are domestic violence related—they do not know what they are going to find, especially if they are going out to a relatively remote farmhouse or a house at the end of a street. Anything can happen.
Sadly, as we have seen over the years, we have lost 61 members of our police force who have made the ultimate sacrifice. I think not only about them but about the families left behind, who have to live with the fact of that lost loved one who is never going to walk in the door again because they made the ultimate sacrifice.
They are doing the job to keep our community safe. You may not think that if you happen to creep over the speed limit and they pull you over to have a chat about why you might have crept over, but that is what they are there for: to keep you safe. Although, in saying that, I acknowledge that we have a policy to bring our rural roads back to 110 km/h—and the sooner the better for our regional members.
The Hon. Z.L. Bettison: Hurry up and do it.
Mr PEDERICK: I note the interjection of, 'Why don't we do it?' I am glad I got that interjection, actually. There is a simple reason: 16 years of neglect in the regions, 16 years of absolute neglect by the previous Labor government. Instead of keeping roads up to the standard that the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure wants to have them at, they just run them down and say, 'That's alright. We'll just call them 100 km/h roads now.' That is, simply, why we cannot do it. As I have had the community—
Mr Odenwalder: Is that a promise?
Mr PEDERICK: Absolutely. It is in our policies. Read them and weep.
Mr Odenwalder interjecting:
The SPEAKER: Order!
Mr PEDERICK: We will fix this issue absolutely. Members on the other side would not know what a rural road was if it hit them in the face. They would not know what a rural road was if it hit them in the face because it was easier just to neglect the regions of South Australia in every way, shape and form, whether it is to do with our transport, our health, our education or the wellbeing of our regional citizens. However, we over on this side do care, and we care that people need to get to places through productivity and all other matters.
There were 16 years of neglect and $1 billion of waste in our road network, where the previous Labor government let a $1 billion backlog in our road funding just go out the window because they were not committed to working on those roads—but I digress. In my final few seconds, I want to totally acknowledge the sacrifice of our police men and women—not just them but also their families and colleagues.