Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 597


Mrs ELLIOT (Parliamentary Secretary for Trade) (4:06 PM) —I also rise to record my sympathy at the deaths of Private Nathan Bewes, Trooper Jason Brown, Private Tomas Dale, Private Grant Kirby and Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, all of who died whilst on combat operations in Afghanistan. I would like to express my deepest sympathy to their families and friends and to their communities, and to acknowledge my appreciation for their service to our country. Today I would like to speak in particular of Private Nathan Bewes, who was from Murwillumbah in my electorate of Richmond. Nathan Bewes was serving with the First Mentoring Task Force when he tragically lost his life from an improvised explosive device on Friday, 9 July. Whilst Nathan Bewes was from the Brisbane based 6th Battalion RAR, he grew up in Murwillumbah and his family and many friends still live there.

Nathan was just 23 years of age when he died. Born in Kogarah, Nathan, like his dad, Gary, loved the St George rugby league team. His family moved to Murwillumbah, where Nathan attended Mount Saint Patrick School. Nathan joined Murwillumbah’s Army cadet unit at the age of 13. He joined the Army in 2005, at the age of 18, and was part of the 6RAR. He was on his third tour of duty after first serving in East Timor in 2006, then in Afghanistan in 2008 and again this year. He had been awarded six service medals.

Speaking with his family it was clear that Nathan was always keen on joining the Army. Gary Bewes said that his son had always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfathers: Cliff Gill, who served in New Guinea in World War II, and Jack Bewes, who served with the Royal Air Force in England. As his family have said, the Army was his lifelong passion. It was all he wanted to do. When he was on leave from Afghanistan in June all he could talk about was getting back to the deployment and to his mates.

Nathan’s family said that he was a born leader and loved the comradeship of the armed forces. He thrived on the lifestyle, the adventure and the mateship. His mother, Kay, said, ‘He was very proud of the job he did and we were very proud of the job he did as well.’ For him that was what he was joining the Army for—to serve Australia, change the world and to help other people.

On the day of Nathan’s funeral the town of Murwillumbah paid tribute to a son and a brother who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Nathan was remembered by his family, friends and fellow soldiers as a man of great courage and as an outstanding soldier. He was also remembered as a man of humour, mateship and compassion. At the end of the service a guard of honour was formed outside the Sacred Heart church with members of the 6RAR, Army cadets, and local school children. And the town of Murwillumbah came to a standstill and more than a thousand people lined the streets as a mark of respect.

We will be forever grateful and indebted to our soldiers for the work they do in protecting us, our interests and our nation. We must always remember those who have served and who continue to serve our nation with such bravery.

Our thoughts are especially with Nathan’s parents, Gary and Kay; his sister, Stephanie; and his partner, Alice. Our thoughts are also with all the families of those whose loved ones have died while serving our country. We thank them for their sacrifice and dedication and their service to our nation.

I commend the motion to the House.