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NOONAN, William 'Barney'


Barney pulls up the anchor Senior Constable William Thomas ‘Barney’ Noonan retired this month after 23 years of service writes Hayley Dwyer Barney Noonan joined the NT Police on 7 February 1983 and completed his training in Darwin. He went on to General Duties in Darwin and then in 1984 moved to Katherine and continued there until a relieving opportunity at Hooker Creek came up on Boxing Day 1984. The job evolved to formal gazettal after Barney applied for the second in charge position. He later did stints as the OIC of the Hooker Creek Police Station. As Barney tells it: “the only member to come through and visit was Glen Lynch – no one came through Hooker in those days.” After a period of undercover work for the Combined Drug Enforcement Unit, he was gazetted to the Marine and Fisheries Enforcement Section in April 1988. Commissioner Paul White attended Barney’s farewell morning tea on 16 August and heard about a man famous for his quick wit and never ending good sense of humour who is affectionately known as the ‘heart and soul of fisheries’. “Despite his unkempt, mean and gruff external appearance, Barney is one of the most caring and perceptive members that I’ve the had pleasure of serving with,” said Senior Constable Richard Cheal, who was the master of ceremonies. “His care towards fellow members and their respective families continued long after he had knocked off for the day. Many a courtesy phone call to the families of ‘absent-on-patrol’ members have been made by Barney over the past 19 years. Sadly, this trait of looking after each other is severely lacking in today’s modern police force. Perhaps this is how Polly Russell came to give Barney the title of the section ‘social welfare worker’, not only to fellow members and families but also to the fishermen he dealt with,“ he said. Barney became a valued member of the land-based patrols in MFES, undertaking back-to-back 10-day patrols deep into Arnhem Land during his early days. Rumour has it that Barney’s willingness to get the job done came to an abrupt halt when Mrs Noonan fronted the then Officer in Charge, Sgt Henshaw. Barney’s forays were temporarily curtailed until some formal workplace agreements were put into place between Mrs Noonan and Sgt Henshaw. Allegedly, the rosters were then faxed to Mrs Noonan for her approval before they were officially posted by the OIC. This practice continued until recent times. In 1996 there was a changing of the guard, with Barney coming under the care of Roger Ilett and Brian Harrison. This saw Barney back out in the never-never as a ‘Toyota Tourist’ or land-based fisheries officer. Intelligence-based policing was adopted in MFES at about that time and Barney was involved in apprehensions and boat seizures as a result of his outstanding surveillance efforts. He has always been a person willing to go the extra hard yards. Often chest deep in saltwater in amongst a few mangroves with video camera in hand–Barney was a (nervous) specialist–just to ‘get the pinch’. A known handyman, as long as Bunnings had pallets of silastic and liquid nails Barney could repair everything from broken esky hinges to rebuilds on boat engines. For many years, he has kept the fisheries fleet refuelled, repaired, and operationally afloat, a fulltime job. “I’ve enjoyed my time with the NT Police immensely”, said Barney.Sadly for his colleagues they will no longer be entertained by his daily bellowing as he struggled to sign on to his computer. To his credit, he never stopped trying to better his PC skills and tried to keep up with the rapidly changing technology. Barney is taking leave until his official retirement in April 2007. He will be doing some odd jobs around his house and looking after his three children. He hopes to remain in the Territory for a while and will no doubt be seen loitering at the Casuarina Club from time to time. Senior Constable Richard Cheal summed up the roceedings nicely: “So long young fella and remember the section motto: Never Look Back. Pectoris et animaeprocul piscatus – the heart and soul of fisheries.” Barney Noonan in surveillance mode - image in article (Thanks to Richard Cheal for his contribution to this story)

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