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
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 1393

Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales) (09:43): I seek leave to make a short statement in response to the Minister for Defence's ministerial statement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted.

Senator FAULKNER: In the absence of the shadow minister for defence, who is attending a select committee as the Senate sits, I want to say on behalf of the opposition that, first of all, the continued practice of reporting on events in Afghanistan is appreciated. It is appropriate that the minister is doing so and doing so frankly. He is right to stress with the parliament that the welfare of our service men and women is uppermost in our minds, as the ISAF mission in Afghanistan evolves and changes in a very fundamental way.

He is right to identify that many challenges will remain for those returning from Afghanistan and, of course, for those families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Forty Australian soldiers have made the supreme sacrifice in Afghanistan. Those sacrifices must never be forgotten. It remains and will remain a great responsibility of this parliament to ensure the welfare of those returning from Afghanistan, particularly the 261 Australians who have been wounded in the service of our nation. I suspect that in the future many others will bear the marks of their service in Afghanistan. We must always keep uppermost in our minds that we have a responsibility to those returning servicemen and -women and their families. I know that that sentiment is shared on both sides of the parliament. It is a responsibility that we must meet into the future.

Given that Senator Conroy is now able to speak on behalf of the opposition, I merely thank the Senate for the opportunity to make these brief remarks. I thank the Minister for Defence, as he at times thanked me when I held that office, for providing the Senate and the Australian parliament with an ongoing update of Australia's service in Afghanistan.