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Monday, 1 December 2008
Page: 11871


Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:01 PM) —I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death on 27 November 2008, of Lieutenant Michael Kenneth Housdan Fussell, killed while on combat operations in Afghanistan, and place on record its appreciation of his service to his country, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

I wish to place before the House our sorrow as a parliament and as a government and as a nation and to offer our prayers and support to Lieutenant Fussell’s family and his friends. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to Lieutenant Fussell’s mother and father, Madeline and Ken, his brother and fellow serviceman, Daniel, and his two sisters, Nikki and Nyah. We extend our sympathy to his extended family and friends including his fellow service men and women, two of whom were also wounded during the incident which took Lieutenant Fussell’s life.

Lieutenant Fussell died leading Australian soldiers and serving his country. He is owed a special debt of gratitude that can never fully be repaid. The men and women of the Australian Defence Force are the pride of the Australian nation and the pride of the Australian people. Today they serve overseas with bravery and distinction to ensure the safety of Australia and to assist the people of other nations in their efforts to achieve stability and peace.

Lieutenant Fussell was a patriotic Australian and a valued member of his regiment. He had led Australian soldiers in both Afghanistan and in East Timor. He was known for his integrity, his determination, his love of life and his love of sport. Lieutenant Fussell lost his life serving his country and his mates. He is the seventh Australian soldier to lose his life in Afghanistan. His sacrifice and those of the other soldiers will not be forgotten.

The loss suffered by Lieutenant Fussell’s family is acute. I spoke to his mum the other night. They are a very stoic family but the dimensions of this loss are unspeakable and the fact that this family has offered to the nation two young men in uniform is, I think, a great testament to their sense of duty to the nation. Lieutenant Fussell’s mum spoke of him being a classic Australian larrikin and those of us who have been abroad and met and spent time with our men and women in uniform know the type of bloke that this fellow was—a very great Australian. His sacrifice will not be forgotten by this House nor will it be forgotten by the nation. On behalf of the Australian government we offer our prayers and our support to Lieutenant Fussell’s family and his friends and his comrades.