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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8830

Mr TUDGE (Aston) (11:30): The toughest of tough soldiers, known as a hard hitter, Special Air Services Regiment Patrol Commander Sergeant Blaine Flower Diddams was also a tender, loving husband and father to his wife Toni-Ann, daughter Elle-Lou and son Henry. He was a valued friend who is sadly missed. His family and friends were of greatest importance to him. Described as totally devoted to his wife, children and extended family, Blaine's brothers and sisters also looked up to him as their hero long before he became a national hero. Didds, as they called him, was all that we cherish about the Australian spirit—a man who stood by his mates no matter what. The men who served side by side with him in the SASR were his brothers in every sense of the word. He was unreservedly dedicated to his mates and to his country. Known for his outgoing personality, quirky sense of humour and infectious enthusiasm, he was held in the highest regard by his mates and comrades alike. His friends became part of his family. Their loss, too, is acute and we in this place stand with them as well as Blaine's family as they seek to come to terms with their loss.

Raised in Canberra, Sergeant Diddams was a career soldier. He enlisted at 18 and by 24, when many are starting careers, he had passed the gruelling SAS selection course and been posted to the West, in Perth. As a Special Air Services Regiment patrol commander, Sergeant Diddams was a member of the Special Operations Task Group. The professionalism and the experience they built up working with other countries over many years is valued by coalition partners as they seek to bring security and stability to Afghanistan and the region.

I recently had the opportunity to observe firsthand the rigorous training that these cutting-edge forces undergo, and I can say without doubt that they are fit and capable in the extreme.

One of their best, and a many times decorated SAS veteran, Blaine served his country in Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands and did no fewer than seven tours of Afghanistan—leading with courage, skill, humour and balanced good sense.

Early on Monday morning, 2 July 2012, Sergeant Diddams was leading his Special Operations Task Group against insurgents when a round from an enemy AK47 took his life. Family and friends declared that Blaine Flower Diddams made the ultimate sacrifice doing what he truly loved. We thank him for his service to our nation and our deepest condolences go to his family.