Heat is on MP
THE battle for the public's hearts and minds on the government's proposed scrapping of the police force's Death and Disability Scheme (DADS) has just become personal, with Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser describing the latest attack on the proposal as "below the belt".
In an open letter to Mr Fraser, the wife of a Woolgoolga police constable claims the National MP was effectively punishing the same people who "risked their lives" at the Frasers' house fire in Central Bucca in June 2008.
"On the night that your house caught fire ... (my husband) and his partner were the first emergency service to arrive at your property," said Sue McIntyre of Red Rock, wife of Const Wayne McIntyre.
"My husband drove at high speed as fast as he could along winding country roads in thick winter fog to render your children assistance."
"He went into the lounge room of your burning house to make sure that no member of your family or their friends had been left inside to perish.
"He half-carried your daughter, who had bad burns to her feet, to his police vehicle and he drove her away from danger down your long driveway to the road where an ambulance was waiting to help her.
"My husband, with whom I have two young children, placed his own life at great risk, together with the life of his partner who is also a wife and a mother, to achieve the selfless goal of helping your children in an emergency."
Mrs McIntyre said if her husband had been injured in the incident, the Government's proposed cutting of the DADS (with a bill to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow) would see the family face serious financial hardship.
But Mr Fraser reacted with dismay at the letter saying it was in poor taste.
"Oh come on ... that to me is hitting well and truly below the belt," he said.
He said he wanted to clarify that his daughter Elizabeth, who suffered a severe foot injury from burning carpet in the blaze, was already out of the house by the time police arrived and all people in the house had been accounted for.
He said he did not appreciate revisiting the memories of such a stressful time, including 12 months of rehabilitation of his daughter.
As to the changes to the DAD scheme, Mr Fraser said negotiations were still under way between the government and the police association.
"I have always been supportive of police and what we want to do is make sure police officers are given the support to get back to work and the numbers they need to do their job," he said.
He said the previous system effectively left officers to their own devices and did not encourage rehabilitation.
"I'm told it's still the most generous in Australia," he said, but this is contradicted by the police association.
He said the previous system was unaffordable, especially considering the financial state the previous Labor Government had created.
Mrs McIntyre said private income and life insurance for police officers was not provided by any insurer in Australia because of job dangers.