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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 14077

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (12:27): On 13 October, it was my great honour to represent the Minister for Defence at the 1st Brigade's farewell parade for Operation Slipper at the RAAF base Edinburgh. I was joined by Senator David Fawcett, who was representing the shadow minister for defence; the Hon. Jack Snelling, the Treasurer of South Australia, who was representing the Premier; Lieutenant-General David Morrison, Chief of the Army; Brigadier John Frewen AM, Commander of 1st Brigade; Lieutenant-Colonel Mick Garraway, who is the commanding officer of 7th Battalion-Royal Australian Regiment; and Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Wells, who is the commanding officer of the 7RAR task group.

It is an impressive sight to see this parade. It was done with the usual degree of professionalism that we have come to expect from the Australian Defence Force, and in particular from the Australian Army. I can only speak very highly of all those involved. It was a day when a number of emotions come to mind. Obviously, one of the emotions was pride, because we have so many young men and women who are serving in the military and serving on operations, in this case in Afghanistan, which is a very dangerous environment. They serve in the same tradition as every other Australian soldier has served: protecting the values of liberty, justice, mateship and democracy. In a world that is so replete with tyranny, these values are a guiding light, a shining light, to people who are innocent, who want a better way of life and who want a way of life that is akin to Australia. These values are terribly important. 7RAR will be mentoring the Afghan National Army's 4th Kandak. This is an important mission, because it is the beginning of our transition out of Afghanistan and it is setting the conditions for the redeployment of the Australian mission by the end of 2014. Obviously this mentoring is not without risk and it is not without reward. 7RAR will be setting up the security arrangements to make sure that Afghanistan does not become another failed state, and to make sure that the terrible tragedy of war, warlordism and terror is not revisited on Afghanistan. I think it is a very important mission, and it was my great honour to be part of that farewell parade. I can only wish them luck and a safe return, which I know all the friends and family who were there that day would also wish.

The other duty I had—and it was a sad duty—was to attend the military funeral of Corporal Scott Smith. I was lucky enough to attend with the Hon. Chris Evans, who was representing the Prime Minister; Stephen Smith; the opposition leader, Tony Abbott; David Johnston, who is the shadow minister for defence; and the Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill; along with the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison; Air Marshal Mark Binskin; Mr Dennis Richardson, who is the secretary for Defence; and Major General Gus Gilmore, who is Special Operations Commander Australia.

Many kind words have been said in this parliament about what a great soldier Scott Smith was. What came through to me at his funeral was what a great person he was and what a great man he was. There was a particularly touching eulogy from his partner, Liv, and if you did not have tears in your eyes at the end of that, you had to have a pretty hard heart. You got a real picture into what a great person he was, and the fact that Scott Smith was the love of her life.

My condolences go to Scott Smith's parents, Katrina Paterson and Murray Smith, and to his sister, Roxanne. It was a very sad duty that day. Scott Smith reminded me of every other country lad that I grew up with in the Barossa Valley. His loss will be felt by all of his family and friends and, of course, all of those in the Barossa Valley.