Presentation of the Police Overseas Service Medal





Presentation of the Police Overseas Service Medal

Parliament House, Canberra

8 July 2013

Check against delivery

Welcome everyone to this historic event.

First, may I welcome Commissioner Tony Negus and members of the AFP Senior Executive, Ms Sharon Prendergast, Director Honours and Awards Government House, and Ms Alice Ling representing the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Most importantly, can I welcome the men we call Kiaps and your families and friends – here to witness this important event.

Today, for the first time we will place a medal on the chests of men who in their youth served in the territory of Papua and territory of New Guinea between 1949 and 1973.

Their job was to bring law and order to a landscape unfamiliar with the modern world and still recovering from the impact of some of the most ferocious battle of World War Two.

Being a Kiap meant you were an ambassador, a police officer, an explorer, a farmer, an engineer and an anthropologist – all in one.

They represented all arms of government – with the main responsibility of providing law and order.

They were given police powers as a member of the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary and also had the power of a magistrate. They worked long hours and were often on call twenty-four hours, seven days a week.

It was a job that demanded perseverance, tenacity and commitment, qualities that have been very important in the campaign that has brought about the recognition of your service today.

Today we are righting a wrong.

We are recognising men that should have properly recognized many years ago.

These medals are a symbol of our thanks, long overdue.

The campaign to right this wrong started a decade ago – led by Chris Viner-Smith.

And we are only here today because of Chris’ hard work and perseverance.

Thank you Chris for everything you done. We all owe you a special debt of gratitude.

There are a few other people that can’t be here today who have helped make this day possible. They include Senator Kate Lundy, Senator Jan McLucas and Scott Morrison, the Member for Cook.

But today is really about you. And recognising your service and thanking you for it.

And so, on behalf of the people of Australia – and I am sure I can say, on behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea – thank you.