13 May 2020
It is with deep sadness that I stand in the Australian Senate today to place on the record my condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King, Constable Glen Humphris and Constable Josh Prestney.
These four Victorian police officers lost their lives in the line of duty on Wednesday 22 April in what can only be described as a shocking road accident on the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne.
Buildings and monuments right across Australia, and in particular in my home state of Victoria, have been lit up with blue, and fellow police and emergency services personnel have held their silence. A state memorial will be held when the coronavirus measures are gradually lifted. I’m grateful to have the opportunity today to recognise these four fine police officers who have been taken from us far too soon.
Leading senior constable Lynette Taylor was a credit to the uniform she proudly wore every single day. She faithfully served the people of Victoria for 31 years and was recognised for her work with the National Medal, the National Police Service medal and the Victoria Police Service medal. Colleagues described Lynette as funny, always smiling, and constantly looking out for others when they needed her and needed her advice. She had a sense of adventure and was looking forward to building a coastal home with her partner so they could get away for some quiet time fishing every now and then.
Senior Constable Kevin King brought great compassion to his role—the kind of police officer who, having booked an elderly woman for drink-driving, would then escort her home, making sure that she was safe and sound, despite the circumstances in which the two of them had met. Friends and colleagues have recalled Kevin as having the kind of good judgement to know that being a traffic cop is more than just issuing infringement tickets.
Constable Glen Humphris graduated recently from the police academy. Glen was honoured by his colleagues of Victoria Police and those of the New South Wales Police Force, who stood on the sides of the road and saluted as the vehicle carrying him home was escorted from Melbourne all the way up north to Newcastle. This tribute was simply his fellow police officers offering a simple but deeply profound mark of respect.
Constable Josh Prestney was 28 years old. A Collingwood supporter like me, he had just came out of police training and, on his first assignment with the Nunawading Highway Patrol, he was eager to fulfil his oath to keep and preserve the peace. His father described him as a hero, and, that, Josh certainly is—as they all are. Anyone who takes up the mantle of blue to protect our community from harm is worthy of the parliament’s admiration.
As we remember these four fine police officers, I also wish to recognise the thousands of police officers who continue to serve not just the people of Victoria but the people of every other jurisdiction in our great Commonwealth, with those officers including the Federal Police. Our community has always been aware of the role that the police and emergency services play—and, I should add, the parliamentary security that protects the very politicians in this place—and the sacrifices that they make in making sure that our freedoms are protected, but the events of 22 April have brought that into stark focus for all of us.
Still, to this day, it is just as shocking to look at the front pages of newspapers and see the carnage that unfolded, and to think, ‘That could have been one of my relatives, serving that day as a member of the Victoria Police.’
So I want to thank you for this work, despite the risks, to help us keep a safe and peaceful place to live.
To the families of the four police officers: there are few things that I or anyone else in this place can say that will fill the void left in your lives. But know that they will never be forgotten, know that all Victorians now and forever will remember the bravery each has shown so that we can be safe, and know that our gratitude for this has no end.
Later today, the Senate will have a motion before it which I am very pleased to move—and also to have the support of my fellow Victorian senators, and I wanted to say thankyou to each and every one of them. It acknowledges the loss of the four Victoria Police officers who were killed in the line of duty. It expresses its condolences to their families, friends and colleagues. It offers support to all police and emergency services, which they deserve, and also to the members of the public that rendered assistance when all the carnage unfolded on 22 April.
Finally, it extends gratitude to all current serving police officers and emergency services personnel. The Australian parliament grieve with you, and we are thinking of you. I want to thank everyone for their support for the motion later this afternoon.
Each officer leaves behind family and friends. If you can help at this time of need, Victoria Police Legacy are accepting contributions for a remembrance fund.