South Australian Police Officer of the Year | SPEECH

20May

Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 15:15 :00 ): I rise today to make a speech to this parliament that gives me great pleasure, that is, to advise that Senior Constable Danny McGurgan from Cadell in the electorate of Stuart has today been announced as South Australia Police Officer of the Year. This is a fantastic award sponsored by the Rotary Club of Unley, and I commend the Rotary Club of Unley for the ongoing work they do in this area.

South Australia Police Officer of the Year is an outstanding award and there could be no better recipient than Senior Constable Danny McGurgan. He is a person from Cadell, and he works in the Waikerie Police Station. He moved to Cadell at the age of 12; he is 52 now, so he has a strong foundation in that community. He is an absolutely tremendous man with regard to police, family and community.

This award for police officers is for a range of very positive contributions, including performing significant acts of courtesy, kindness, understanding or courage, or handling a complex and difficult situation with humility. The award also recognises an officer’s voluntary work outside their policing role. Danny McGurgan volunteers for just about everything going on in this area at the moment. He is so highly regarded, in fact, that this year on Australia Day he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)—an outstanding acknowledgement. He was also the Mid Murray Council’s Citizen of the Year this year, which is another wonderful award in recognition of his community work.

Danny is perhaps most well known recently for his work to save the Cadell ferry. Members of this house who were in parliament last year (and, hopefully, new members who were not here) would be aware of the government trying to take away the Cadell ferry. There were an enormous number of reasons why that was a dreadful thing to do: it was completely inappropriate for the community, for emergency services, for the school, for local primary production businesses and for regional development in general. It was also completely inappropriate because the government did not pursue its own internal consultation processes. Minister after minister was asked in estimates a couple of years ago, ‘Were you consulted about this decision?’ and they all had to say no.

Let me be very clear: I can tell this house absolutely 100 per cent that Mr Danny McGurgan did not take up the issue of the Cadell ferry with regard to politics at all. There was no politics whatsoever in his pursuit of this issue. He pursued it because of its importance to his community. He pursued it in the same way he pursues all other local issues affecting the community. He is involved in everything that goes on around the place.

The last time I saw Danny McGurgan was on Easter Saturday at the Cadell Easter Harvest Festival, and I can tell you that he was like the Pied Piper of the local community, running games for the kids—the orange throw, having to hit a bucket with oranges, and the carp toss. He ran a whole range of other very harmless, good fun and positive events for the community in a double-edged way: a community fundraiser that was also community building. Probably 70 or 80 kids were hanging around of all ages, from just barely able to walk up to teenagers, teenagers who often are a bit too cool, too surly or too busy doing teenage things—they loved it, and they wanted to play all those games with him, so he was supporting the community in that way.

I can assure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, that Danny McGurgan will not change. He has been an Order of Australia medal recipient since January and he was at the Cadell Easter Harvest Festival doing the same things that he has done year in, year out. He is a very, very down-to-earth man, he is a down-to-earth police officer, he supports his community in every way that he possibly can, and I congratulate Danny McGurgan, his family and the Cadell community.