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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12681


Mr SNOWDON (LingiariMinister for Veterans' Affairs, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Minister for Indigenous Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of ANZAC) (17:34): I thank the previous speaker for her contribution. I rise to associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence, the Leader of the Opposition, the shadow ministers and all other members who have been involved in this expression of condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Corporal Scott James Smith.

Our thoughts and deep sympathy go out to his loved ones and to his family by choice, the Australian Defence Force. In particular, we send our condolences to those with whom he served alongside in Army Special Operations Engineer Regiment. Corporal Smith was a young man, just 24 years old. But, as we know, he was an experienced soldier, having spent seven years with the Army. He had already undertaken deployments to the Solomon Islands and had had one prior tour of Afghanistan. Among our elite forces he has been acknowledged as 'one of the best junior non-commissioned officers that the unit has seen'. That high praise from his peers and superiors, along with the many decorations he received during his too-brief career, show that he was a strong, smart and very committed professional soldier.

Behind the indescribable sadness for his family and friends, there should be pride for his service to our nation. I offer my deepest sympathies to his parents, Katrina and Murray, and to his sister, Roxanne. I also offer my thanks for raising a wonderful son. Scott was a young man who found his calling wearing this country's uniform. Thank you for the support you provided him to undertake a career of service. I would also like to express my sincere sadness and condolences to Corporal Smith's partner, Liv. I cannot imagine the pain she is going through, but she needs to know that the thoughts of our nation are with her.

There was another family that knew Corporal Smith very well, his second family, as his family dubbed them: his comrades. Those he served alongside of are mourning the loss of one of their own, a man they described as 'genuine, honest and dedicated'. What goes unsaid, though, is that he was brave, capable and committed to serving his country. His death is being deeply felt across his unit and the Army more widely. Corporal Smith was tragically killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a clearance operation in Afghanistan's Helmand region early this month. He is the 39th Australian killed in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. He is the 19th member of the Special Operations Task Group to make the ultimate sacrifice.

We acknowledge the burden borne by our special operations forces in Afghanistan. Their role in this conflict is intense and extremely dangerous. We know that the operation Corporal Smith was undertaking was critically important. We know that, through his operation, an estimated 100 improvised explosive devices and a bomb-making factory were destroyed. We know this was an important operation. IEDs are a terrible, indiscriminate weapon, deployed without thought about who they kill or maim. The destruction of this bomb-making factory will save many, many more lives, including the lives of Australian and allied forces, Afghan civilians, women and children who can be caught in IED blasts.

Australia's mission in Afghanistan is ongoing and our commitment remains strong. That strength comes in no small part from the dedication, drive and professionalism of our forces on the ground. Our men and women in Afghanistan know that the work they are doing. What they are fighting for is a young nation to stand strong and resist terrorist forces intent on plying their evil trade. As the Minister for Defence pointed out, we will not be in Afghanistan forever. Work towards transitioning Afghan-led security in Uruzgan is on track. We have also been a nation that sees these things through and gets the job done. We are a nation that honours its fallen by finishing what we have started. All Australians owe our forces who serve in Afghanistan, who have served in Afghanistan, those who continue to fight and, sadly, those who have been lost in the conflict an incredible debt of gratitude.

Corporal Scott James Smith will have his name added to the Roll of Honour on the Australian War Memorial. His sacrifice will be remembered forever, alongside 102,000 others who have given their all in Australia's name. Lest we forget.