Government Whip in the Legislative Council

Liberal Member in the Parliament of South Australia




Motion on the Commissioner of Police

Wednesday 1 July, 2015

 I rise to support the motion on behalf of the Liberal Party of South Australia. I will not repeat basically what the Hon. Tung Ngo has just said about the exemplary service of the officers we are commending, but I certainly concur with everything he said. I come from a slightly different tack. I will say that I am blessed to know many serving police officers and ex-police officers. To that point, I recently hosted a group of serving and ex-police officers in the barbecue area at Parliament House. Whilst the circumstances were to a degree a little sad in that we were commemorating and celebrating the life of senior commissioned officer Derryn Phillips, who was a good friend to all of us and an outstanding officer and person, we used the opportunity to get together and discussed obviously many issues. When Commissioner Burns was appointed to his position, I asked my network of friends, both commissioned and non-commissioned officers and some senior constables, as to their views with regard to Commissioner Burns' appointment. Sir, you would be pleased to know that all of them were really quite enthusiastic about the appointment of Gary Burns to the position of Commissioner of Police. He was described by all as, in their words, 'a copper's copper', and they meant that with every amount of respect. To me, he turned out to be a policeman's commissioner and went about his duties without fear or favour in that particular role. There was one incident that I fondly remember when he was questioned about the appointment of a senior person and the money was coming out of his budget. There was not an ounce of political motivation in Commissioner Burns. He basically said, 'I've got no idea what this guy is going to do and I've got no idea why the money is coming out of my budget.' It showed that, without fear or favour, he was there to do the best job for the people of South Australia running his department and he certainly was not going to be involved in any political games. Commissioner Burns leaves the job and leaves it with a lot of fond memories among his staff, and I reckon that is as good as it probably gets: the people who he was commanding, to me, apparently hold him in the highest regard. So, on behalf of the Liberal Party, I wish Commissioner Burns all the very best. I use the same opportunity to talk about the new deputy commissioner and the new commissioner, Grant Stevens. Grant Stevens I also have had the pleasure of meeting at I think it was a retired police officers' function. I sat with Commissioner Stevens and his wife, and I concur with the Hon. Tung Ngo: they are wonderful people. But, most importantly, the many police officers who I know quite enthusiastically received the news that Grant Stevens was going to become our Commissioner of Police and, again, it instils me with quite a bit of confidence when the people who I know are on the ground doing the work—these people come from many different areas of the police force—are enthusiastically embracing Grant Stevens as the Commissioner of Police, and no less Linda Williams. Obviously, Linda has had an outstanding career in policing. The Liberal Party fully endorses these appointments and looks forward to working with the commissioner and the deputy commissioner for the betterment of all South Australians. I commend the motion to the house.

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