Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 28, 2023



Doig, Brevet Sergeant Jason Christopher

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:31): By leave, I move:

That this council—

1. Offer its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of South Australia Police Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig, killed in the line of duty on 17 November 2023;

2. Acknowledge his bravery and sacrifice and place on record our thanks for his service to the South Australian community;

3. Acknowledge the bravery of Sergeant Michael Hutchinson, wounded during the incident, and Constable Rebekah Cass, who rendered assistance to the injured officers and the suspect; and

4. That the President be requested to convey to the family of Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig the above resolution, together with an expression of the sympathy and sorrow of the members of the Legislative Council, in the loss that they have sustained.

At about 11.20pm on Thursday 16 November, police attended a property on Senior Road near the Victorian border to investigate an earlier incident. Attending police were confronted by an armed suspect and a shooting incident occurred. Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig, the officer-in-charge at Lucindale station, sustained fatal gunshot wounds and, despite the best efforts of his colleagues and paramedics, sadly died at the scene.

Brevet Sergeant Doig was 53 years old. A second police officer, Sergeant Michael Hutchinson from Bordertown, sustained non life-threatening gunshot wounds and was transported to Adelaide for treatment. Constable Rebekah Cass, also from Bordertown, was not physically injured and rendered assistance to both her injured colleagues and to the suspect.

The occupant of the address, a 26-year-old man, was shot by police. He was treated at the scene and flown to Adelaide where he remains under police guard. The man has since been charged with murder and attempted murder.

This is the first death of a South Australian police officer on duty since 2002 and the first death of a police officer by firearm since 1985. On behalf of the government, I wish to offer my sincere condolences to the family, friends and wider SAPOL community following the death of Brevet Sergeant Doig.

Brevet Sergeant Doig, by every single account, was a very well-loved member of the South-East community. Country police have a unique and critical role and are embedded into their local communities. Brevet Sergeant Doig was no different and had lived in the Lucindale community for many years. Brevet Sergeant Doig is loved and remembered by his mother, Faye; his brothers, Greg and Brett; and all who knew him.

On behalf of the government, I also extend my sympathies and best wishes to Sergeant Hutchinson as he recovers from his injuries sustained during the incident and to Constable Cass, who showed phenomenal courage and compassion in rendering life-saving assistance to her colleagues and to the suspect.

Though we all knew it before, I think this incident has brought into sharp focus the risk and sacrifice that police officers make for their community when they go to work every single day. They do this willingly for the greater good of the community, and for that we are immeasurably indebted to them. I again pass on the government's deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Brevet Sergeant Doig. We thank him for his lifetime of service and for the ultimate sacrifice he has paid. May he rest in peace.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:34): I rise on behalf of the opposition to extend my sincere condolences to family, friends and colleagues on the sad passing of Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig. Brevet Sergeant Doig was serving in the line of duty when he was tragically shot and killed at a rural property at Senior in the state's South-East on 17 November 2023. Reports are that he was attending a routine inquiry when it turned suddenly and tragically violent.

Brevet Sergeant Doig is the 62nd police officer killed in the line of duty in South Australia's history. The last one was 21 years ago. Brevet Sergeant Doig died at the young age of 53 after serving for decades in the police force. In the last 12 years, he was the sole officer in charge at the Lucindale Police Station on Musgrave Avenue. That station is a crucial vestibule of leadership and stability, and the tight-knit regional community has been understandably hard hit by Brevet Sergeant Doig's passing. Naracoorte Lucindale Council Mayor, Patrick Ross, said that Brevet Sergeant Doig was a classic country copper. He said:

He loved it every day of his life, whether he was in uniform or not, he was a policeman.

He would be the first person to put on a uniform and go and help anyone.

He cared for this community…

All Jason ever wanted from his community whilst he was on duty, while he lived and worked in our community, that no-one would die by misadventure, that he could have some control over.

The community clearly reciprocated that love in their outpouring of grief. His close community connections were evident as 500 people gathered for a wreath-laying ceremony outside the Lucindale Police Station, and the assistant commissioner, along with the local area school, expressed their sorrow at his passing. Tributes poured in from police forces, fire services and emergency workers across Australia, and shops on the main street closed out of respect.

I would like to also recognise the other two brave police officers who were at the scene of the incident: Sergeant Michael Hutchinson, who has undergone surgery, and Constable Rebekah Cass, who assisted both Brevet Sergeant Doig and Sergeant Hutchinson. They deserve our thanks for doing everything they could at the scene along with the paramedics. I understand that even the alleged shooter received assistance from police after the incident.

It is, again, a timely reminder of the incredible courage and dedication of our police officers. Their service and sacrifice are invaluable in keeping our communities safe and upholding the values of justice and integrity. Brevet Sergeant Doig paid the ultimate price to keep our community safe, and it is fitting that we honour him in this place. Again, I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:38): I join members of both houses in offering my condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of South Australia Police Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig, who was tragically killed in the line of duty on 17 November 2023. This is a loss felt across the police force, across local communities and across the state.

Brevet Sergeant Doig was the officer-in-charge at Lucindale Police Station, a single-officer station in the South-East. As has been mentioned, he was described by friend and Naracoorte Lucindale Council Mayor, Patrick Ross, as a classic country copper. What that means is that he was approachable, he was available, he was dedicated, he was selfless, as demonstrated by the sacrifice he has made. The love and respect the local community had for Sergeant Doig was evident in the many floral tributes laid at the police station, and many locals shared stories of their grief and the personable approach he took in his role.

Sergeant Doig was honoured across the state by flags flown at half-mast and public buildings lit up in blue. This incident reminds us once again that police officers demonstrate incredible bravery and incredible sacrifice every day, facing dangers every day to protect our communities.

I also want to acknowledge that it would have been incredibly distressing for the first responders who attended the scene, because in small communities we all tend to know each other. The bravery of Sergeant Michael Hutchinson, who was wounded during the incident, and Constable Rebekah Cass, who rendered assistance to the injured officers and the suspect, cannot be overstated. I trust they are being well supported and receiving the help they need to recover from this very traumatic event.

I want to remind members and the public that there are condolence books available, which have been placed at a number of police stations, including Mount Gambier and Bordertown. There is also an online condolence book that has been made available. Members of the community often also want to do something practical, and a contribution to support police officers and their families through South Australia Police Legacy might be one way in which they can do that. Legacy is a charity that supports South Australia Police families by offering financial, emotional and social support to those who are affected by bereavement, such as in this case, or by serious illness.

Once again, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig and place on record my sincere thanks for his service to the South Australian community—a sentiment that I know is shared by the government and all those in this chamber.

The Hon. B.R. HOOD (14:41): I rise today to pay my respects to the late South Australia Police Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig, and I echo the sentiments of the honourable leaders in this place and those of the primary industries minister. In speaking with my friends within the Lucindale community who knew Brevet Sergeant Doig, they described him as a quirky guy and as a kind-hearted, generous man whose interests were in doing the right thing and keeping his community safe. He was the embodiment of the best traits of the salt-of-the-earth regional bloke. They said he was a police officer through and through—strict but fair—and that doing his duty was his whole life.

In his early days of policing in Lucindale, he would take busloads of kids down to Robe to enjoy the beach for the day. He would often park his police car outside the school just as the bell rang for home time, so that people observed the speed limits, ensuring that the local kids could walk home safely.

He was a strong swimmer and one of the initial supporters of the new swimming pool project in Lucindale. He sat on the management committee after funding was secured, and when that pool was completed he renewed his lifeguard qualifications and was an active lifeguard at the pool when he could. He was fanatical about his motorcycles, and also about the ones that you have to pedal. He was joined by the Lucindale lycra group as they would ride the Avenue Range loop and stop at the deli afterwards for a coffee and a chat.

He was a huge advocate of the Nuts & Bolts mental health evenings held at the Lucindale Hotel and assisted the committee in organising the Triple J Lucindale One Night Stand event, helping with risk analysis for a small country town that would see a huge influx of people for that fantastic event.

His death has left a shattered community in its wake, who are devastated in their grief. Despite the hole that has been left in Lucindale's tight-knit community, it is the very nature of our regional communities' resilience, kindness and strength that will, in time, bring healing. As has been said so well by many of the Lucindale community, Jason was more than a protector: he was Lucindale family.

I extend my deepest condolences to Brevet Sergeant Doig's family, to his SAPOL colleagues and to his friends throughout the South-East. His bravery, sacrifice and love for his community will be remembered. Our state mourns with you. May he rest in peace.

Motion carried.