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Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Page: 8490

Mr ROBERT (Fadden) (14:10): I join the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Defence in honouring Sergeant Blaine Diddams, who was tragically killed in Afghanistan on 2 July 2012. I pass on my sincere condolences to his wife, Toni-Ann; his daughter, Elle-Lou; his son, Henry; his parents, Peter and Cate; and his siblings, Nikki, Sian, Christian and Luke. To Blaine's dad, Peter, who was a young officer in Vietnam with 1046 Squadron in 1969, I say this: Peter, your son fought well. He was a leader of the elite, of the SAS. By any measure he was 'a soldier's soldier', and collectively we are incredibly proud of him, as we are of you. Blaine led tough men, he fought tough fights and he has paid a tough price.

Sergeant Diddams was a career soldier. He joined the Army at 18, and by his 24th birthday, when many are starting careers, he had passed the gruelling SAS selection course and had been posted to the west. By his 31st birthday he had already deployed to Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. By his last birthday, his 41st, he had deployed to Afghanistan seven times. His was truly a life lived serving our nation. Sergeant Diddams's actions on that fateful day, and over his exceptional career, would fill tomes; his love for his family, community and nation would fill volumes. We are lesser for his passing, we are stronger for his serving, and we are humbled by his deeds.

The SAS develops incredible soldiers, and it is because of their skills that the regiment has shouldered a disproportionate burden in Afghanistan. They have paid the price, as Rudyard Kipling remarked in his 1892 poem Tommy, for being 'uniforms that guard you while you sleep'. Perhaps few of us spare a thought for the price paid for us to sleep well. Kipling knew that the price was the loss of men like Blaine Diddams. So let us this day commit to write another verse in Kipling's famous poem, a verse that tells of community honour to match battlefield deeds, a verse of government care, compassion and support to match soldierly bravery, heroism and sacrifice. Let us write a verse through our policy work that would make Kipling proud.

Today we honour one of the toughest of the tough, 'a soldier's soldier' whose uniform guarded us while we slept. Today we honour Sergeant Blaine Diddams and we humbly thank him and his family for the burden they have borne for the freedom we enjoy. Lest we forget.

The SPEAKER: As a mark of respect, I ask all present to signify their approval by rising in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

Debate adjourned.