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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8841

Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (12:19): I rise to join others in honouring Special Air Service Regiment Sergeant Blaine Diddams who was tragically killed in Afghanistan on 2 July 2012. I also pass on my condolences to his wife, Toni-Ann, his daughter, Elle-Lou, his son, Henry, his parents, Cate and Peter, and his siblings, Nikki, Sian, Christian and Luke.

Sergeant Diddams joined the Army as a 19-year-old and was the son of a Vietnam veteran. He joined the SAS as a 24-year-old. He has served with distinction in Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, and he has done seven tours of duty in Afghanistan. I repeat the words of the shadow minister, Stuart Robert, when he said:

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.

I never served—and I would never even think about putting my hand up for SAS training. I do not know the toughness required for that. I do not know the toughness needed to leave your wife and kids and risk your life so that others can sleep safely and soundly. I come from the city of Townsville and we are home to 3rd Brigade, which are ready-deployed. They talk about the level of training they have to do, and it becomes instinct—they have what they call muscle memory. They have to train to become so attuned that when something happens they automatically go into the correct position. Extrapolate that out to what it must take to become a sergeant in the SAS and do seven tours of duty in Afghanistan. We can never know the toughness, the athleticism, the grit and the determination that Sergeant Diddams must have had.

To his wife Toni-Ann, his daughter Elle-Lou and his son Henry, I say thank you—you are grieving so that others can be saved. I do not have the toughness to do what you have endured and will endure. May god bless you.

I take this opportunity to say a few words about those who do come home. They do not get condolence motions if they come home with a limp or they come home with post-traumatic stress disorder. We must understand the damage that these actions do to people; we must understand that people will come home and they will not be obviously injured but they will carry a heavy toll nonetheless. We must understand and we must support, and as Australian people we must be prepared to pay for that support. We have sent these people to these places; they have defended our rights and our way of life and tried to establish a better way of life for others. There is a price to pay for that and we as a nation must be prepared to pony up for it.

To Sergeant Blaine Diddams, I say thank you—thank you for a life well lived—and I say sorry for a life cut too short. To all of us I say, 'Lest we forget'.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Mitchell ): I understand it is the wish of honourable members to signify at this stage their respect and sympathy by rising in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the Federation Chamber.