Anthony William George TAMPLIN
New South Wales Police Force
Regd. # 18183
Rank: Senior Constable
Stations: Chatswood ( 1978 ) , Waratah Police Stn for 29 years as Media Liasion Officer
Service: From ? ? 1978 to ? = 35 years Service
Awards: National Medal – granted 7 May 1994
Born: ? ? 1958
Died on: Monday 29 April 2013 – On Duty
Cause: Heart attack
Funeral date: Thursday 2 May 2013
Funeral location: Newcastle City Hall
Buried at: ?
Memorial: NSW Police force Service Memorial Wall, Sydney Police Centre, Surry Hills, C21 ( right wall )
Location of incident:
LAST week I celebrated 35 years as a member of the NSW Police Force.
I don’t mention it to brag or to solicit further return complimentary comments.
I mention this because I was humbled by the people who have gone out of their way to express gratitude to me.
It is because of this tremendous current of support that I love this city.
We are a community, we still recognise one another as people, not as house or unit numbers lost in a concrete maze.
When Mother Nature bares her teeth, a resident falls on hard times, a person falls victim to an illness, or when crime threatens our community, we pitch in.
We are lucky enough to live in a city that is still just a big country town and recently you, once again, reinforced that to me with your comments of support.
Friends, people I haven’t seen for a long time and people I don’t even know personally took time to comment on Facebook or other media and I am truly humbled and thankful.
We are proud because we still interact as a community.
William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, once said: “I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Thank you for showing kindness as we pass one another.
35 years on the beat
– By Dan Proudman
HE has been the jovial face of the police force across the Hunter for decades.
But a surprise celebration for Senior Constable Tony Tamplin reaching 35 years on the thin blue line last week prompted an emotional time for reflection for the Northern Region’s media liaison officer.
With his wife, parents and six of his seven children around him, Senior Constable Tamplin spoke of the wider family of the police, which made him continue getting up and going to work.
‘‘The job itself is an intriguing, wonderful, hard, emotional job but the reason you keep coming back every day is the people you work with,’’ he said.
‘‘I keep getting up every day, not thinking I have got to go to work as a copper but thinking I am going to go and see my mates.
‘‘There are 16,000 people in my club.’’
Senior Constable Tamplin started at Chatswood in 1978 but an accident in 1984 put him on restricted duties. His gift of the gab and eye for good stories quickly found him looking after the Hunter’s media for the next 29 years.
But he’s not yet ready for retirement.
National Police Remembrance Day to honour brave officers
CONSTABLE Henry Rucker was just seven months into his job when he found himself with a group of police searching for some robbers who had held up the James Williams jewellery store in Hunter Street earlier in the day.
The year is 1863 as Constable Rucker, a 31-year-old most probably stationed at Newcastle, takes off towards Lake Macquarie on horseback.
It’s getting late. But the officers continue to hunt the 19th century bandits as they cross a tributary into the lake.
Constable Rucker digs his heels into his stead but things go awry. His mount rolls and he is thrown into the water and drowns.
Within 18 months of the NSW Police Force being created, Constable Rucker becomes the second police officer to die in the Hunter.
Three months earlier Constable Michael Farralley had also drowned in a creek.
More than 150 years on, and the Hunter has had at least 30 police officers die while on duty. They have been shot, bashed, electrocuted, involved in road accidents and suffered medical problems.
Today, they will be remembered.
September 29, the special day for Saint Michael the Archangel, patron saint of police, has become National Police Remembrance Day.
The most recent officer to be lost on duty was the immensely popular Senior Constable Tony Tamplin, who suffered a heart attack at Waratah police station last year.
Half of the police on the Hunter’s roll of honour have been killed in motor vehicle accidents, which included eight riding police motorcycles. Four of those riders were killed in a shocking decade from 1957 to 1967.
Three Hunter officers have been shot dead, including Constable William King, who was killed after answering the door to his East Gresford police residence one night in 1971 as his children were inside.
Senior Constable Doug Eaton was shot when he and another officer were ambushed after stopping a break-in at the Toronto Country Club at Kilaben Bay in 1977.
Three days after Senior Constable Eaton’s death, Cessnock officers Alan Thompson and Ray Scorer were killed in a car accident as they returned from their colleague’s funeral.
Sergeant Keith Haydon was shot dead, targeted by a man also wanted for murdering two men at Bondi.
Acting Newcastle City local area commander, acting Superintendent Michael Gorman, said the day was one of the most important on the police calendar.
“National Police Remembrance Day is a solemn day in which officers pause to honour our departed colleagues, and reflect upon the sacrifice they have made for the community,” he said.
“Each day officers confront danger as they perform their duties. National Police Remembrance Day reminds us that a safe community often comes at a high price for officers and their families.”
There have been 252 officers killed on duty cross NSW since 1962.
The Newcastle service will be held at Christ Church Cathedral at 10.30am.
EDITORIAL: Think of police heroes
GALLERY: Thousands farewell Tony Tamplin
Marvellous. Senior Constable Tony Tamplin would have been chuffed as thousands of mourners packed Newcastle Town Hall this morning to celebrate the life of a man who had touched so many.
Brilliant and heartfelt tributes from his grieving wife, Sonia, their children and his brother, Denis, were complimented by moving words from NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and representatives from the media and charities.
Senior Constable Tamplin died suddenly on Monday, aged 54 and after 35 years service in the police force, more than a decade helping his favourite charity Variety – the Childrens Charity and seven years as a popular celebrant.
Mr Scipione also announced that Senior Constable Tamplin would be honoured posthumously with the National Police Service Medal, recognising his ethical and diligent service in protecting the community.
‘When we gather at a funeral to farewell a colleague, a friend, a loved one, it is understandable, perhaps inevitable, that the mood is sombre,’’ Mr Scipione said.
‘‘There is always great sadness at the loss.
‘‘But somehow that is not quite fitting for Tony. He wouldn’t have wanted it – he wouldn’t have allowed it.
‘‘Life was a joy. And simply put, Tony was a wonderful bloke – optimistic and big-hearted.
‘‘In fact, everything about Tony Tamplin was big – larger than life almost.
‘‘Large of frame, large of personality, and always a large contributor.’’
And so the mood of the service, which packed four rooms of the town hall with thousands of people, became a celebration of a brilliant life.
Wife, Sonia, and their six children – the Tamplin Tribe – wore his bright shirts as they spoke from their broken hearts.
A friend from Variety threw on a statue of David apron, made famous by the big fellow on their annual pilgrimages on the Variety bash to raise money for children who most needed it.
Brother Denis, NBN journalist Paul Lobb and entertainer John Paul Young also turned tears of grief into laughter as they told their own tales of what Senior Constable Tamplin meant to them.
A police helicopter and motorcycles led the procession through a 150-metre long guard of honour along King Street as Senior Constable Tamplin made one final appearance in front of an adoring public.
VIDEO: Emotions flow at Tony Tamplin’s funeral
FATHER, husband, son, brother, mate, copper, charity fund-raiser, celebrant, snooker player, mentor, joke teller.
He was definitely ‘‘one of the good guys’’, but possibly Tony Tamplin’s greatest gift was that he could be someone different to so many people.
Many of the thousands who packed Newcastle City Hall on Thursday would have their own stories about the ‘‘larger than life’’ bloke who had ‘‘the heart the size of a pumpkin’’.
Grieving widow Sonia defied her own fears of public speaking to talk about the man she had married 27 years ago and had six children with.
She joked the ‘‘big fella upstairs’’ had probably grown bored with his current company and wanted her husband – the Happy Buddha – to make him laugh.
‘‘He was always in the limelight and I was more than happy to be in the background,’’ she told the mourners.
‘‘Anyone who knew Tony knew he had a heart of gold, but anyone that knew him really well also knew that he could be such a stubborn bastard.
‘‘He was a very humble man who, for never one minute, thought he was special.’’
Their children spoke of learning life’s lessons from their father.
Eldest son, Tony jnr, said he had been moulded by his father in ‘‘every way, shape and form’’ and vowed to continue to honour his legacy.
‘‘One thing I hadn’t considered, was the not-so-secret life of Tony Tamplin,’’ Tony jnr said.
‘‘To myself, my siblings, my mother, and all my family, Tony was a man who worked hard because he loved his work.
‘‘He worked hard for his family because he loved his family.
‘‘Until the past few days, I thought that was the only people who knew.’’
But now they know.
Eldest daughter Natusha said her dad was never a fan of ‘‘all this soppy stuff’’.
‘‘I think it is pretty obvious to you all that we thought our dad was the best,’’ she said.
‘‘But I can now see that you all thought he was amazing too.
‘‘Dad taught me life lessons by setting an example.
‘‘He didn’t stress about things he couldn’t change, he appreciated what he had, and he was happy,’’ she said.
Brother Denis Tamplin said his family had been overwhelmed by the support of the police and the ‘‘beautiful outpourings of heartfelt emotion’’ from the general public since his brother’s death.
He said his brother was engaging and genuinely interested in people, fiercely loyal and he had had an impact on all of his family’s lives.
Entertainer John Paul Young told how Senior Constable Tamplin had become a mentor to many since joining Variety – the Children’s Charity in 2000 and ‘‘did it all with a love and a smile’’.
But he also had that mischievous humour, like the time they were enjoying a meal on the Variety Big Bash.
‘‘I had some gravy dribbling down my chin and I was looking for a napkin,’’ Young said.
‘‘He said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and so I told him and he said: ‘You just relax, you just enjoy yourself. I will lick your face clean when you’re finished’.’’
NBN journalist Paul Lobb recalled Senior Constable Tamplin’s unique office at Newcastle police station, which he had fitted out with stuffed toys, souped-up wanted posters, cartoons and other paraphernalia.
‘‘Certainly not police standard-issue,’’ Lobb said.
‘‘And there were the kettles and other broken down electrical equipment.
‘‘They hung from the ceiling emblazoned with the date that they had broken and how many years of service they had given, making Tony’s famous early morning bucket-sized coffee.’’
Lobb also joked about Senior Constable Tamplin’s way with words when describing crime scenes and criminals.
‘‘If the description of the offender was that he was wearing stripy tracksuit pants, pink joggers, a lime green hoodie, Tony would say ‘Mate, crooks these days just have no dress sense’.’’
He later added: ‘‘It was more like ringing a mate than ringing a police media liaison officer.
‘‘Tone was one of the good guys.
‘‘And I am sure if we rang now for one final rounds check, he would probably tell a joke about some badly dressed crim trying to steal the pearly gates in a ram raid.
‘‘He would lean back in his chair and take a swig of his brew and he would say ‘Squire, don’t worry, I’m living the dream’.
‘‘We just wish he could have lived it a bit longer here with us.’’
While many spoke about the differences Senior Constable Tamplin made to the life of the community, his family reminded the crowd of his most important job.
They told of how he would yell out ‘‘Papa’’ as he walked through the front door and spoke of their simple wish to have one last big bear hug from their dad.
Tony jnr summed it up best when he said: ‘‘The hole that he has left in the community is too big to be filled by one person.’’
Parliament of New South Wales Legislative Assembly 2 May 2013
Mr TIM OWEN (Newcastle) [10.04 a.m.]: I move:
- That this House:
- (1) notes that the Northern Region Police Media Liaison Officer, Senior Constable Tony Tamplin, passed away at Waratah police station on 29 April 2013;
- (2) notes that Tony Tamplin served in the NSW Police Force for 35 years, with 29 years in his media liaison role; and
- (3) expresses its sincere condolences to the family, friends and workmates of Tony Tamplin for their loss.
My colleagues and I from the Hunter stand united today in honouring the memory of Senior Constable Tony Tamplin, who sadly passed away on 29 April 2013 aged just 54. Since Monday there has been an outpouring of public grief in the Hunter as the community mourns a true character who touched many lives. Anthony William George Tamplin was a man of many layers. He was a family man deeply loved by his wife, Sonia, their six children—Natusha, Anthony, Yelena, Annika, Alexander and Kalina—and his parents, Tony senior and Anne. He was a tireless aid worker who donated much of his spare time to assisting local charities. He was also a jovial and hugely popular marriage celebrant. Above all, he was a stalwart of the NSW Police Force who recently celebrated 35 years in uniform. Over the course of his distinguished career, Senior Constable Tamplin became the face of the New South Wales police across the Hunter. He provided a valuable link between the police and the wider public in his role as police media liaison officer. Tens of thousands of people grew up with Tony—and I was one of them. He was part of our daily lives; we watched him on NBN television, read his candid lines in the Newcastle Herald and his amusing but informative column in the Star or admired his quick wit on local radio. However, it was not only his work with the media that led to Tony Tamplin becoming a much-loved community figure. Tony was a man of great compassion who was often seen at community events, such as the Variety Bash in support of children’s charities, and he always left a great impression. It is probably fair to say Tony Tamplin was one of the most loved coppers in the history of the NSW Police Force. I was at the Waratah police station when news first broke of Tony’s sudden passing and it was not long before floral tributes were placed on the steps and social media message boards were flooded with words of gratitude and condolences. As the elected representative of Newcastle, their voice in Parliament, I thought it appropriate that I share some of those poignant messages. David Gardiner wrote:
- Tony was one of the most professional, helpful, down to earth people I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with as a news journalist. He had the rare skill of being able to convey information, often sensitive, into easy to understand language. Tony’s compassion and his strong sense of humour, as well as his involvement in charity events such as the Variety Bash, will be forever remembered.
Heather Buckley wrote:
- I only knew Tony Tamplin through his piece in the STAR newspaper and listening to him on KOfm. I was amazed at his passion for the community and for the young kids of Newcastle and Suburbs! He will be sadly missed and my heart goes out to his wife and family and also his colleagues.
Tony McKenzie wrote:
- I have known Tony through the Police for probably most of his 35 Yrs. Mate you did us all proud. Newcastle has lost a great man and an even greater COPPER. You wrote the book on Police and Media relations.
In my role as a member of Parliament I have come to respect and admire the great work the NSW Police Force does in the community. As Robyne Slade said in her tribute, “police men and women play a major role in making our communities safe”. I have come to know many members of the local command and I could think of no finer representative of the force than Senior Constable Tony Tamplin. We are conducting this debate this morning while his funeral service is being held in Newcastle.
The police officer’s role is not an easy one. Living under a strict disciplinary code and sworn to uphold the law of the land, police officers relations with the public are sometimes difficult, especially in enforcing laws that are not popular with certain social groups. Despite this, Tony was always warmly received by the public. Behind the scenes the life of police officers is not easy—they comfort lost children, lend a shoulder to cry on when the elderly lady experiences a break-in at her home or counsel families after delivering the worst news imaginable about a loved one. It is a job that can be so emotionally confronting that few outside the force can ever really understand just how hard some days can be. Yet Tony was always a pleasure to be around, was courteous and a true gentlemen to everyone he met.
On behalf of the Newcastle community, I pay tribute to the countless hours of work that Senior Constable Tamplin donated to assist others, in particular, his work with charitable foundations. Tony is a man who will be sorely missed; a man who in the past few days has been fittingly described by many as “a larger than life persona”, “a man with a big heart”, “one of Newcastle’s finest”, “a massive community figure” and “a man with a wicked sense of humour”. Tony wrote a column for the 24 April 2013 edition of the Star in which he reflected on his 35 years of service in the NSW Police Force. He quoted William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania:
- I expect to pass through life but once. If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.
I believe Tony attempted to live his life by the principle of doing good for others, and in doing so he has challenged all of us to show kindness to those around us. There will never be another Tony; he was unique, a champion of his community who will forever be remembered with great fondness. On behalf of the Newcastle constituency and the Hunter region I conclude by saying that our thoughts are with Senior Constable Tamplin’s family, friends and the entire NSW Police Force during this difficult time. I commend his life’s work to the House.
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [10.10 a.m.]: I acknowledge the fine contribution of the member for Newcastle and join my colleagues in paying tribute to Senior Constable Tony Tamplin. It is hard to believe that I will not be seeing Tony at community and charity events, so ubiquitous a presence and so dominant a personality was he in the Hunter region. Tony was indeed the everywhere man. As the member for Newcastle noted, and as I am sure other members will note, Tony was the face of the NSW Police Force in the Hunter and he had been for 29 years, but his public profile went much deeper than that.
Tony was attached to numerous charities, among them the children’s charity Variety, cancer fundraising groups, the Blood Bank and Hunter Life Education. His picture was constantly in the local newspapers or on the news on television in connection with the promotion or support of events for charities such as these, with photographs inevitably showing him hamming it up for the camera or flashing that wide trademark grin that even his equally characteristic bushy beard could not hide. I am sure that members can conjure up a picture of Tony Tamplin at a Variety bash with his good mate Super Hubert, that marvellous magician in the Hunter.
Mr Andrew Cornwell: The world’s skinniest magician.
Mr GREG PIPER: The world’s skinniest magician and one of the Hunter’s biggest cops. When we talk about Tony Tamplin we should not forget such wonderful imagery. I first met Tony Tamplin in the 1990s when I was a councillor on Lake Macquarie City Council. In subsequent years I had cause to share a stage or to mingle with him at many events in my capacity as a councillor and later as mayor of Lake Macquarie and State member. A few years ago we officiated together at a ceremony to mark the beginning of the first stage of the children’s park at Speers Point. Variety, which is a significant partner, helped to create an adventure playground that is accessible to children with disabilities. I know that the member for Swansea would agree with me that Speers Point Park is a wonderful park.
With shovel ready, standing on the top of a double decker bus, I announced to the assembled dignitaries and onlookers that we were there to turn the first sod. I then quipped that I thought that was no way to talk about Tony. He laughed, of course, showing his customary goodwill—as always, happy to be the butt of the joke and more than capable of good naturedly returning the compliment in spades. I cannot imagine how much money Tony’s advocacy of charity causes has helped to bring in for those organisations but I hasten a guess that it would be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Away from the cameras and that public persona he was generous with his time in other ways as well. In between his official media liaison duties and his charity work he attended countless community functions to speak to people about crime and safety issues. Whether it was addressing a handful of retirees about home security at a midweek morning tea or hundreds of people at a major crime forum, he gave the same enthusiasm to all. Through these grassroots activities and by using his public relations skills to harness the reach of the media, Tony was at the vanguard of proactive and pre-emptive policing. He was forever spearheading public announcements to remind people to be wary to lock up their homes when there was a spate of thefts, to observe speed limits and safe driving guidelines as busy school holiday periods loomed, to alert people to scams doing the rounds, or to warn parents to urge their children to be vigilant about stranger danger.
Tony Tamplin has been the voice of calm during many a crisis. As Newcastle Herald reporter Dan Proudman so aptly wrote in his obituary in Tuesday’s paper, Tony was “a soft, reassuring hand on the region’s collective shoulder”. He was a soothing presence during the notorious June long weekend storms and floods of 2007, keeping order among the media masses at the site of the Pasha Bulker’s beaching at Nobbys and making sure the critical emergency messages reached their targets. He also had an opportunity to use his liaison and public relations skills while working with the NSW Police Force at the Sydney Olympics—an experience I understand was a career highlight.
While perhaps most fondly remembered for his skylarking and good-natured support of community causes, it is important to acknowledge the absolute professionalism he displayed in all aspects of his job and his innate ability to project the right mood for the circumstances. Much of the work he did managing communications at the interface between the police and the community involved difficult and traumatic events. He always dealt with such matters sensitively and reasonably, respecting the balance between public interest and the privacy of victims and others affected by criminal acts or accidents. I spoke to Superintendent Craig Rae, formerly the local area commander of Lake Macquarie Area Command. Craig wants to pass on his message of respect for Tony Tamplin who did so much to elevate the standing of police in the region.
The balance that Tony Tamplin struck is not always easy to attain, and sometimes relationships between media and police are strained as a result, but Tony earned the utmost respect of those within the Hunter media, as evidenced by the tributes they have made on hearing of his passing. Indeed, there has been a huge public response to his death—one that I would say is unprecedented for a member of the Police Force and a measure of the high regard with which he was held by all in the community. Tony died just two weeks after marking 35 years with the Police Force—he joined as a teenager—and he spent nearly 30 of those years serving in the Hunter region. On the occasion of his thirty-fifth anniversary last month he nominated his colleagues as the reason for his enduring enthusiasm for his job. He said:
- The job itself is an intriguing, wonderful, hard, emotional job but the reason you keep coming back every day is the people you work with.
- I keep getting up every day, not thinking I have got to go to work as a copper but thinking I am going to go and see my mates. This is the biggest club in the world. There are 16,000 people in my club.
Tony was renowned as a family man—a father of six and one of six siblings. He was a popular marriage celebrant, known for his ability to soothe the nerves of brides and grooms with his characteristic humour and terrible dad jokes. Always a good sport, he entered into the spirit of any ceremony—even donning an Elvis Presley wig and cape to preside over the wedding of a couple who had won a radio competition that allowed listeners to decide on aspects of the wedding, including the celebrant’s dress code. One of the last times I saw Tony was at the annual bikers’ toy run at Christmas, another of his favourite community causes. He was in the thick of things as usual, laughing, talking and working the crowd. As I said when I commenced my speech, it is hard to believe I will not see him playing that role again. His death is an indescribable loss to our community and I offer my deepest sympathies to his wife, Sonia, to his children and to all who loved him.
Mr GARRY EDWARDS (Swansea) [10.16 a.m.]: Today we are acknowledging and remembering one of the greatest icons in the Hunter—Senior Constable Anthony William George Tamplin. It is with real sadness that I speak of the sudden and unexpected loss of a dedicated community man and a hardworking and loving family man at the age of just 54. I would have expected to have been speaking about Tony and his many accomplishments at perhaps his retirement in another decade or so. I extend sincere condolences to Senior Constable Tamplin’s family, friends and colleagues. Only a fortnight ago Senior Constable Tony Tamplin celebrated his thirty-fifth year as a member of the NSW Police Force—35 years of passionate dedication, 35 years of caring and integrity not just for the NSW Police Force but also for communities in New South Wales and in Australia.
For many years Senior Constable Tony Tamplin has been seen as the face of the NSW Police Force in the Hunter and a man who, despite the ever-changing world around us, could always be trusted. A generation of young folk in the Hunter have grown up recognising, listening to and believing in Senior Constable Tony Tamplin. As public relations officer for Hunter police since 1984, Senior Constable Tony Tamplin was and still is the face of the region’s police ranks, but his dedication and commitment stretched further than that. Senior Constable Tony Tamplin was a unique and committed community man, well recognised and respected for his ongoing charitable work. Notably he spent more than a decade raising awareness and money for the children’s charity Variety. Senior Constable Tony Tamplin will be remembered by many as a true, real and rare Aussie character. His wicked sense of humour, larger than life personality and ability to take the mickey out of himself endeared him to all who met him.
- No-one has done a better job of bringing the police and the wider community closer together in our region—at least not in my time in this place or in the region—than Senior Constable Tony Tamplin. Once again I express deepest condolences to Tony’s wife, Sonia, to his children, Natusha, Anthony, Yelena, Anikka, Alexander and Kalina, to his dad, Tony senior, to his mum, Anne, and to all his siblings on their loss. A statement by Superintendent John Gralton, Commander, Newcastle City Local Area Command, in the
- on Tuesday 30 April 2013 sums up Tony’s passing, “The Hunter has lost a piece of its heart.” Vale, Anthony William George Tamplin, husband, dad, police officer, charity worker, civil marriage celebrant, community builder and bloody good Aussie bloke. Tony, your name will survive you as a true son of the Hunter.
Mr TROY GRANT (Dubbo—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.20 a.m.]: I make a short contribution to this condolence motion in memory of my former police colleague and mate Senior Constable Tony Tamplin. I endorse everything that has been said, and will be said, by my parliamentary colleagues from the Hunter about a great man who was larger than life. I have spoken in this Parliament on a number of occasions about child sexual assault issues in the Hunter Valley and those comments are well recorded in Hansard and in the media. But what has that to do with Tony Tamplin? The first two victims in what has now become a plethora of incidents, which have had an unimaginable impact on that wonderful region, went to Tony Tamplin and his staff to seek guidance and advice on how to face the most difficult chapter ever to enfold their lives. To me that pretty much says it all as to the level of regard and respect with which Tony was held. Members will talk about that respect today but I witnessed it firsthand.
Tony played an important role in the media that followed the arrest and investigation of Father Ryan and the subsequent investigations. The contribution he made cannot be understated, particularly in his support of the victims. Two guys, in the infancy of these matters, choose to place their trust in Senior Constable Tony Tamplin to help them work out how they would bring forward the most damaging chapter in their lives. For that those victims and I will be forever grateful. I cannot sufficiently express how deeply remorseful I am and how shocked I was when I learnt of Tony’s passing. I offer my deepest sympathies to his family and colleagues; my condolences and thoughts will be with them for a long time. As the member for Swansea said, Tony loved the cops and his colleagues, and they loved him right back. Vale Tony Tamplin.
Mr CLAYTON BARR (Cessnock) [10.22 a.m.]: Whilst Tony’s influence did not extend to the Cessnock area the people in my electorate still chose to call him with their issues. Some of my constituents told me, “I rang that Tony Tamplin. He is on TV. He seems really nice. I thought he would help me.” Sadly, the heinous crimes that the member for Orange spoke about are occurring right across the region. I commence my contribution by acknowledging how lucky we are today to be talking about Tony Tamplin in this place—not lucky because he died but lucky because we knew him. Many people, for instance, from Sydney, the Illawarra and out west did not get to know him but that is their loss. Tony was an outstanding individual.
Tony started presenting the police news at a time when Brian Bury and Brian Henderson were presenting the evening news, Graham Kennedy was at the top of his game and Paul Hogan was on television. I have grown up with only Tony Tamplin reporting the police news. For 30 years the Hunter region had only one cop on television, radio and in the media reporting police news. That was the person he was to the people of the Hunter. Tony Tamplin was larger than life. Interestingly, his wife, Sonia, noted that 20 years ago he had said to her that when he died he wanted his life to be celebrated and for people to have fun remembering him. I will start by having a bit of fun at his expense. The Newcastle Herald reported that Tony had left behind big shoes to fill. Tony was a big guy and he would have seen the irony in that. He had bloody big shoes to fill, physically and literally.
In preparing my speech I rang a friend who had worked with Tony Tamplin over the past 10 years in Variety to ask him for his thoughts about Tony. My friend, a significant character in his own right, said that Tony was hard to describe. He was just big but he exuded positivity and optimism. People wanted to be around him and he brought them together when they were around him. Tony gelled with people. He had enormous respect and empathy for people. He had a big smile, a hearty laugh and he was humble. My friend will be attending the service that is being held today for Tony at Newcastle Town Hall. Tony Tamplin’s last column for the Star sums up why I love the people of the Hunter and why I enjoy the privilege of representing the people of the Hunter in this Chamber. In that article Tony reflected on the enormous support he had been given in recognition of his 35 years of service as a member of the NSW Police Force. Tony said:
- It is because of this tremendous current of support that I love this city. We are a community, we still recognise one another as people, not as house or unit numbers lost in a concrete maze. When Mother Nature bares her teeth, a resident falls on hard times, a person falls victim to an illness, or when crime threatens our community, we all pitch in.
He finished that column by saying:
- Thank you for showing kindness as we pass one another.
All members should remember that and we all need to do it. I sometimes wonder whether I am doing the right thing when I look someone in the eye as I pass him or her in the street. I do not know these people—they could be Joe Blow or Jenny Blogs—but I like to show kindness to the people in the street. Tony Tamplin did that. Vale Tony Tamplin.
Mr ANDREW CORNWELL (Charlestown) [10.26 a.m.]: I too make a brief contribution about the life of Senior Constable Tony Tamplin. Tony grew up in a large family and he and his wife, Sonia, raised a large family. But Tony was also a member of a family of 16,000 police colleagues and a family of 500,000 fellow Hunter residents. Tony was loved and adored by all those families. He was the face of policing in the Hunter. In many ways the respect with which our police are held today was reflected in the respect that people had for Tony. Tony never used police lingo in the media; he used language to which the public related. He would never talk about an alleged perpetrator or a group of youths. He would say, “Some idiot has been snapping trees in the main street of Wallsend”, or, “Some dope has gone and done this in Cardiff”. People genuinely warmed to him because the way in which he described things reflected what they felt.
Tony always struck an appropriate note. It was always stern but it was always sincere. It was evident from the way in which he communicated his message to the community that he clearly loved his job. Tony devoted a large amount of his time to charity work. One was more likely to see Tony standing beside Big Dog or Super Hubert, the world’s skinniest magician, than standing beside the Commissioner of Police. Tony and Super Hubert were brothers in arms for the Variety charity. Tony used his profile to assist in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Variety. It would be remiss of me if I did not use this opportunity to shamelessly plug Variety as that is what Tony would have done. He would have had a brief opportunity of about 30 seconds to talk about a policing issue and he would then take about five minutes to plug Variety. Charity work was core business to him. Tony was a lover of life. He was generous in both time and spirit, self-effacing and sincere. He was a big bloke; he was bighearted. Vale Tony Tamplin, you will be sorely missed and a great loss to the Hunter community.
Ms SONIA HORNERY (Wallsend) [10.28 a.m.], by leave: In this motion of condolence we are talking about the distinguished career of a wonderful police officer from the Hunter. I agree with the comments of the member for Newcastle about Tony’s quick wit. Tony was definitely a much-loved community figure and probably one of the most popular coppers in the NSW Police Force. I agree with the comments of the member for Lake Macquarie that Tony would have been instrumental in helping him, as mayor of Lake Macquarie, to open the children’s park and get on with it. I love the way the member for Cessnock described Tony Tamplin as “indescribable”, because he certainly was.
As the member for Charlestown said, Tony was much loved and adored by the population of the Hunter. In my contribution I will refer to two particular encounters with Tony that were quite memorable. The first encounter was when I asked Tony to speak at a seniors forum on advocating for home security. I liked Tony’s frank and fair discussions with the seniors of the Wallsend community—he did not muck around about ensuring that they were aware they had to take responsibility for their own home security. That is what I liked about Tony: When it came to the nitty-gritty Tony knew how to explain to people that as members of the community they had to take responsibility for their own safety. That is important.
The second opportunity I had to meet with Tony and his wife, Sonia, was about another important issue: disadvantaged children. By the way, Tony’s wife, Sonia, is a lovely woman and their children are wonderful. I am sure this is a sad time for Sonia and the family and on behalf of the House I pass on my condolences to them. Tony, Sonia and I talked about disadvantaged children in a particular school. They were concerned about ensuring that we had teachers’ aides for the students with disabilities. Tony did everything right. He was a model constituent; he is the kind of constituent a member wants when there is a problem. They ring the office and make an appointment. They write a letter explaining the problem; they are courteous. They wait for an agreeable time to meet and then they discuss the problem.
Tony wrote to me about the fact that some disadvantaged students in a local school were about to lose their teacher’s aide, who was sorely needed in that classroom. He thought that the students would not be able to learn without the teacher’s aide. So we wrote to the school and the department, and we were successful in retaining the teacher’s aide for those disadvantaged students. We did it all right and everyone was happy. In conclusion, Tony was a man of diplomacy and he did not muck around. He was much admired not only by the Wallsend community but also by the Hunter community, and it was well deserved. I am worried about Sonia; I hope she is okay. I imagine it is tough to have six children and to be without a dad. No-one wants to hear about that. I simply pass on my condolences, and I hope the family is okay. Tony will be sorely missed in the community.
Mr CRAIG BAUMANN (Port Stephens—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.32 a.m.], by leave: I add my humble contribution to the worthy tributes to Senior Constable Tony Tamplin. Words at a time like this are so often inadequate—there are only so many ways that we can describe someone who has left an indelible mark on our community and will be missed so very dearly by so many. The fact that my Hunter colleagues on both sides of the House are united today as one, speaking in unison on this motion, is a testament to the deep loss felt in all our communities. This is one thing that the eight of us agree on, and unfortunately we are united by grief.
As we speak, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for the Hunter, the Hon. Michael Gallacher, is representing the Government, the Parliament and, more personally, the Hunter members—Liberal, Labor and Independent—at Tony’s funeral. The Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage, and member for Maitland, the Hon. Robyn Parker, is representing the Government outside Parliament this morning but I know her thoughts are with us as we speak and with Tony as he is laid to rest.
Along with the Newcastle Knights and the Jets, Tony Tamplin was another vital piece of fabric in the fascinating patchwork that makes up the Hunter. The community’s outpouring of sadness at Tony’s passing is evident in the stories still running in the media and the many social media sites being inundated with tributes. A true servant of the public for 35 years, Tony Tamplin has left his mark on our community. Tragically taken at what I consider a young age, his legacy has left our community with a fine example of the blue uniform—a worthy citizen who gave so much to so many.
Through his day-to-day work, Tony personally touched thousands of people. Through his work in the media, he touched countless more. So many people feel they knew Tony Tamplin personally—he was in our living rooms at night and on our radios in the car during the day, giving us the latest information. He was the always reliable, dependably soothing voice of the police, whether it be warning us about a new scam by criminals, delivering the bad news about a tragedy or appealing to the public for assistance in a missing person’s case. His dulcet tones were the balm we needed when there was a local crisis.
The well-known beard became familiar to us all, his soothing voice one we all came to trust when we heard it on the radio. He was a popular celebrant who married hundreds of Hunter couples; he was renowned for sharing in the couple’s joyous day as if it was the first ceremony he had ever officiated. He was a champion of charities, in particular the Variety Club and autism research. I heard the member for Charlestown mention Super Hubert. That is the second time Super Hubert has been mentioned in Hansard. But Tony Tamplin was so much more than the fundraiser, the popular celebrant or the jovial face of police in the Hunter. We must not forget that he was a much-loved husband and father, a cherished son and brother. The House extends its sincere sympathy to Tony’s wife, Sonia, and his family. I hope they are in some small way comforted by the incredible outpouring of grief by people they will likely never meet, such was the respect and admiration for Tony. Vale Tony Tamplin.
Mr DAVID ELLIOTT (Baulkham Hills) [10.36 a.m.], by leave: As most members from the Hunter Valley know, I try to write myself into the Hunter Valley script, given that my family has lived there since the 1860s. But that is not the reason I make this contribution. I knew Tony professionally, as did the member for Dubbo. It was 20 years ago, in 1993, that as a university graduate I decided to make an honest career in the NSW Police Force media unit. That is when I met Tony, who was the media liaison officer based in Newcastle. Tony was, as members have described him, larger than life. I remember as a 23-year-old working in the police media unit with those tough, seasoned coppers, particularly in the Hunter Valley. Tony was a reassuring figure who would be happy to put his arm around me and give me some sage advice, particularly when I was under the pump.
I was always in awe of how much the media in the Hunter Valley, and particularly Newcastle, respected Tony. I do not think there was an incident in Newcastle that Tony did not control. And if he was not in control of it, particularly so far as police operations were concerned and the broader emergency services portfolio, he used to hide it well. There were always unwritten rules in police media relationships—nods and winks and the like. I suspect that Tony perfected that early in his career because neither the police commanders nor the media ever seemed to give him a hard time. I am conscious of Tony’s charitable work. I am conscious that he had been in the job for 35 years, but the media embraced him as one of their own. When one works in public relations one knows that the greatest way to free oneself of spin or the accusation of spin is to be written into the script and to be seen as one of the media, and Tony certainly did that.
Whether it was floods and storm emergencies, or indeed serious crime, Tony put a human face to the NSW Police Force. At the time I started working with the NSW Police Force media unit my wife, Nicole, also started in the unit. Although we were young, single people, Tony, Nicole and I would often attend police events. Tony would tell me that it was a scandal that I was going out with the superintendent’s daughter, and not long after we got married Tony said it was a scandal I had married the superintendent’s daughter. Tony was that way inclined. He could talk to people from all levels of society. I conclude by touching on something the member for Wallsend said. If I know Tony well, I know that he would be horrified to think we would leave his wife and kids without support, love, prayers and indeed encouragement.
Tony was a father to so many people and now I think the people of the Hunter and the police family need to take a leaf out of his book and we need to be family to his children and to his wife. We sit here today depressed, sad and mourning over the fact that we have lost a great stalwart of the community and wondering who is going to pick up the slack. But there is a family now with six kids that has been left with an even bigger hole. So I join the member for Wallsend in making sure that Tony’s family is aware that this Parliament is conscious of the fact that they are in mourning and without a father. If there is anything we can do to encourage the police and the people of the Hunter Valley to support them we will do it. Vale Tony Tamplin.
Mr NATHAN REES (Toongabbie) [10.41 a.m.], by leave: Today I make a brief contribution regarding the passing of Tony Tamplin. Most of the material about the integrity, decency and courage of this gentleman has already been covered by the fine contributions of the previous speakers. I take this opportunity to extend my condolences to his wife, his extended family, his loved ones and friends, and also to the 16,000-plus men and women of the NSW Police Force, who are part of his broader family. I had a couple of dealings with Tony, first as Minister for Emergency Services when the Newcastle storms hit in June 2007 and again as Premier. Tony was not just a fine policeman; he was a fine Australian and, as the member for Baulkham Hills said, a man who was decent, upright, straight up and down, and who had the respect of the media—and that is no small feat.
Tony had the quality of being irresistibly likeable—and those of us who work in politics know how valuable that is. Many of us try every day to narrow the awful gap between Tony and us. He was a gentleman, a father figure to many, a mentor to hundreds and a man extraordinarily well regarded in his community. The fact that so many people in this place have paid tribute to Tony this morning and that his funeral today is so well attended demonstrates the impact that he has had on his community. Tony was a man who was larger than life and who had a positive impact on everything he went near. The community and the country were very lucky to have him. Vale Tony.
Mr TIM OWEN (Newcastle) [10.42 a.m.], in reply: I thank members representing the electorates of Lake Macquarie, Swansea, Cessnock, Charlestown, Wallsend, Port Stephens, Dubbo, Baulkham Hills and Toongabbie for their warm and heartfelt contributions to this motion. There is not too much more to say. The police Minister is at the funeral this morning and I know that he will pass on the warm regards of the Parliament to the family of Tony Tamplin. As members have said this morning, it is a sad day for the city and for the Hunter Valley region. It is, of course, an extremely sad day for Sonia and the family.
Tony will be remembered as a great police officer, a great community man, a great family man and a man of great charity. But as the member for Cessnock said, we should all celebrate a life of extraordinary colour and commitment. Tony was a man whom I knew very well. In fact, I was due to ride on the Variety Bash with him in a couple of weeks. I know that he will be sorely missed. It is a sad day but we should remember Tony with great joy and celebration, and be grateful that the community of New South Wales had the privilege of having him with us for the past 54 years. On behalf of all members I say: Rest in peace, Tony—an extraordinary life that will be well remembered.
Question—That the motion be agreed to—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Members and officers of the House stood in their places as a mark of respect.