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Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Page: 7041


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (17:07): On Monday, 6 June this year, Sapper Rowan Jaie Robinson was killed by enemy fire in northern Helmand, Afghanistan. I did not know Rowan Robinson personally nor would most Australians, but with them I honour him.

I have read the brief report of the action in which he was killed and I have seen the statement by his family. But I cannot honour him as those who knew him and loved him honour him. I cannot share with you, with this House, some personal insight into this brave young man. What I can do is to thank him on behalf of so many Australians, because this brave young man went to war at his nation's request—at our request—not once but on two separate deployments. Rowan Robinson died fighting for Australia, for all of us. Not for him is the opportunity for the debate and discussions we have in this place—the debate and discussions we have because of the bravery of so many young Australians in Afghanistan and those who have gone before. It was simply an order, a deployment, an operation and a duty proudly undertaken. His family's statement said:

… he took his work very seriously, knowing he was responsible for the lives of those who followed him through dangerous ground. He knew the risk of his job and accepted it.

How courageous is that! And yet that is what we ask of our troops each time they go to war, each mission, each patrol and each action. That is what we must never forget. These brave young men undertake these risks and sadly, many die—sadly, too many die. They take these risks because their nation asks them to. As I said some time ago, sadly, the remoteness of this war and the 15-second grab nature of television news means that many Australians do not see the harsh reality of war. They do not feel the pain and suffering of those who have lost a son, a brother, a friend.

To Rowan Robinson's family I offer my sympathy and that of the people of Ryan. There is little I can say that can take away the pain of your tragic loss. Your nation is forever in your debt because, like Rowan, you have paid the greatest price. You have lost someone you love—as simple, as harsh and as tragic as that. We must never forget that debt. To Rowan Robinson, I did not know you but in this place I honour you as I honour those who have gone before and those who are still there. I can only imagine the pain and suffering of your family. My heart is with them.