Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (19:55): It is with a very, very heavy heart that I rise in the chamber tonight to express condolences to the family of Senior Constable Brett Forte, a police officer, a hero, who lost his life yesterday in a gunfight in my electorate. Senior Constable Forte was tragically shot and killed when he was doing his job in the Lockyer Valley in my electorate yesterday. He is remembered as a dedicated officer, serving with the Queensland Police Service for more than 15 years, and he was part of the Toowoomba Tactical Crime Squad.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family tonight, his wife, Susan, also a police officer, and their three children, and their friends and colleagues. He has been taken from you way too soon.
Queensland mourns a hardworking, well-respected member of the police force who was simply trying to apprehend a wanted person. He was doing his job, protecting our community, so that we can sleep under a veil of protection.
He was the 12th police officer in Queensland to be shot whilst on duty since 1964. And that is the danger our police officers face every single day. It is a real and apparent danger. It reminds me of Norm Watt—it was the last police officer’s funeral I went to. He was also part of the tactical response squad. He was a doggy. He was shot in crossfire at a siege outside Rockhampton.
And, Susan, can I share with you that the family of the Queensland police force rallied around Norm’s family. It was, without a doubt, the largest funeral I have ever been to in my existence. That same family will wrap itself around you and your children.
The irony is that the other officer that tried to come to Norm Watt’s aid was a police officer that I went to boarding school with, Darren Lees, who took fire and could not get to Norm in time, in virtually similar circumstances, before he died. Norm died; he was shot in the leg and bled out at the scene. The irony is that Darren Lees, who tried to save him, died a number of years later of lymphoma cancer—again, way too young.
When our police officers go to work, they know that they may never come home, but instead they run towards the danger and not away from it. You can only just fathom that, when the blood is running through our veins and we are in a time of panic, and too often we reach out to the police force, they arrive at our scene—whether it be a domestic violence scene or whether it be a traffic incident—with their blood racing through their veins, every single day. And I think we become numb to what our emergency service personnel endure through a normal eight-hour shift on any given day. They put their lives on the line every day when they go to work so that we can be safe.
I want to acknowledge some of the remarkable police officers in my electorate, without naming them. I found it just unfathomable that, when I heard the news that we had had this incident in the electorate, you do this mental checklist of police officers that you know, that are your mates, that you go fishing with, that you drink beer with, and it is only the sense of relief that comes upon you once you find that it was not your friend—can you imagine the heartfelt situation that their families feel when they see the television outlets say that there is a police officer been shot, as to whether or not that is their brother or their father or their husband or their dad?
Most of us will never experience what our police officers do in the line of their duty. In the time remaining to me, with the indulgence of the House, I would just like to offer my small sentiment and respect to the family, in offering some 15 seconds of silence, and then I will close, if it is all right with you.
Honourable members having stood in their places—
Mr BUCHHOLZ: I thank the House. With honour they serve. With honour he served. I thank the House.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): I thank the member for Wright, and the House certainly agrees with the sentiments of his speech.
Video of Speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8wL0d2DZoQ