Oct 23, 2017

Australian Federal Police Bravery Awards Speech – 23 Oct 2017

I would like to draw the attention of this place to an Australian Federal Police bravery award awarded to two counterterrorism officers targeted in a frenzied attack by teenage jihadist Numan Haider on 23 September 2014. The officers, whose identities have to be suppressed, were recognised last week with the AFP bravery awards, almost three years after they almost died in the attack.

I want to talk about how it affected the particular officers in a second. But I wanted to draw to the attention of this place that the Coroner’s Court of Victoria finding hailed the actions of both officers. Undisputed evidence to the court found Officer B almost certainly would have been killed, and possibly decapitated, had it not been for the actions of Officer A, who killed Haider with a single bullet to the head in order to save his colleague. An internal AFP memo confirmed Sergeant A had displayed conspicuous bravery at Endeavour Hills, Victoria, on 23 September 2014, where, despite having been seriously wounded as a result of a sustained knife attack, he saved the life of an AFP member. The memo said, ‘Federal Agent B, for displaying conspicuous bravery at the Endeavour Hills Police Station in Victoria, on 23 September, where he was seriously wounded as a result of a sustained knife attack’. Officer B said he got through it with the support of friends, family and colleagues, as well as the support of the Australian public.

Three years have passed. This was Officer B talking to the Weekend Australian about the after-effects of what happened on that very dark evening:

‘It’s etched into your mind, my kids’ faces in the hospital. I remember just as if it was yesterday,’ he said. ‘Things come back to you … you still get upset. It sort of never leaves you … it will always be there and you’re always reminded daily by the scars.’

It’s funny when we have a discussion about counterterrorism in this place. Sometimes I think these two officers think that they might have been forgotten. I know these two officers, and I know them extremely well. I know that, in particular, Officer A, who discharged his weapon, still experiences some challenges, as does Officer B. So, even though we have an article in the Weekend Australian, the nature of the AFP bravery awards is that they’ll be held in secret, because, if the names of these two gentlemen were known, they would be targeted; they would be killed.

So I would like to say to those two officers in particular, who believe sometimes that perhaps the public have forgotten the sacrifices they made on that night: ‘This parliament hasn’t forgotten. We honour what you did and were subjected to on that night, and we will not forget you or your families, regardless of how much time has elapsed.’

 

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