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Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 613

Ms MARINO (5:22 PM) —I rise to offer my heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and Australian Defence Force colleagues of the five soldiers who lost their lives while on combat operations in Afghanistan and to honour and express my greatest respect for Private Nathan Bewes, Trooper Jason Brown, Private Grant Kirby, Private Tomas Dale and Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney. These five fine, dedicated soldiers—four infantrymen from the 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and one trooper from the Special Air Service Regiment—will forever be remembered for their ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives for their country.

Private Bewes was just 23 years old on his second deployment following a previous deployment to East Timor. Trooper Jason Brown was just 29 years old on his first deployment to Afghanistan following three previous deployments in East Timor. Private Tomas Dale was 21 years old and was on his first operational deployment. Private Grant Kirby was 35 years old, having previously deployed to Iraq and East Timor. Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney was 28 years old on his third deployment to the Middle East and his second to Afghanistan. These men leave behind their wives and partners, their children, their parents, their brothers and sisters and other family members. They also leave behind many friends and their close-knit mates, their fellow ADF members. They are essentially the families and friends of our fallen and those whose grief and loss mean that their worlds will never be the same again.

I listened to the member for Cowan and the member for Murray and none of us in this chamber could have failed to have been moved by their contributions. The member for Murray spoke about small halls in communities. In my hometown of Brunswick, the name of my mother’s husband who was killed in New Guinea is on the wall. So it is a very real issue; it is a very real grief. My two sisters who were Alma and Jack’s children will carry the grief and loss of their father all their lives, as will the families of these five young men and all of our other servicemen and servicewomen. It is something that goes with them. It went with my mother to her grave. One of the last things my sister who died last year said to me was, ‘I will never forget my dad’s arm around my shoulder.’ I think she was only three. But my other sister has no memory at all of her father and she says to this day it is a loss she bears all her life.

There are many of us, like the member for Murray, in this place who well understand not only the sacrifice of these young men but also what is ahead for the families and the friends of these wonderful young men. As I said, these are people whose grief and loss will mean that their world will never be the same again. I know from my mother’s experience of 60 years in placing a floral tribute every Anzac Day on the memorial at Brunswick even when there was not an Anzac service that Anzac Day will become a very important symbolic but very dreadfully sad day. It will be a day when they and thousands and thousands of Australians right around the nation will come together every single year to show never-ending respect for these five young men and all those who fought for our nation, all those who will fight for our nation and all those who are fighting for our nation and are in uniform today as part of our Australian defence forces.

Private John Bewes, Trooper Jason Brown, Private Grant Kirby, Private Tomas Dale and Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney all embodied the Anzac spirit of an inherent commitment to their mates, of bravery, of courage and a determination to serve their country—and serve it well they did. Their professional skills and capability made them incredibly valuable members of our defence forces. However, they were very, very well aware of the dangers they faced. These men will never leave the thoughts or hearts of their family and friends and the nation will forever honour them.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—I understand it is the wish of honourable members to signify at this stage their respect and sympathy by rising in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I thank the Committee.