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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12687

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (17:54): I commend the previous speakers on their contributions to this condolence motion for Corporal Scott James Smith. Many speakers have had a particular connection, either through the training bases or by having a large military presence in their electorate. I would like to make a contribution as well, not having known Corporal Scott James Smith but knowing that hopefully, in some way, these eternal words by the representatives of the people of Australia will also recognise the eternal sacrifice by someone way too young to make the ultimate sacrifice—not that there is any age that would be appropriate for the 38 soldiers who had already died in Afghanistan and now for the 39th. All too often I have been on my feet in this chamber recognising the passing of a great Australian in this sacrifice in Afghanistan.

As a corporal with the special forces combat engineers, given the way soldiers talk, Corporal Smith would have known how closely and how often he and his comrades would have been in harm's way. I am sure he would not have known that growing up in the Barossa Valley. We have heard from other speakers about his passion for waterskiing. As someone who grew up in rural Australia, I know how much waterskiing is such a great joy and I think of him now doing that—and I am sure his family will—and the laughter and the jokes from his time as a bit of a scallywag, from what we have heard from previous speakers, the media coverage and the reports from his family. I think of him laughing and having a great time waterskiing and joking with his friends and his family, and particularly with his partner, Liv. I am sure they are the memories that will be of great comfort to his family in the years ahead. As I said, this is one small contribution in terms of having my words, and the thoughts of the people who reside in the electorate of Moreton, recognise his sacrifice.

I do not have a significant connection with the Army; I am more connected with the RAAF. As with many of the people in the parliament, my other interaction with the military is through the parliamentary placement program, where we get to see the incredible professionalism of our ADF personnel for a week, normally in Australia or around the place. It was from that that I was tempted to see what contribution I could make to the military, and I joined the RAAF Reserve as a legal officer. The other day, as part of a training day, rather than going to Amberley where we normally go—it is nice and safe for RAAF personnel—we went to Enoggera, an Army base, and it was one of the hottest days already this summer. It was in the mid-to high 30s at this training base, for a room full of lawyers. When we broke for lunch, it gave me an insight into the character of our special forces and combat engineers when I saw soldiers running around, on a Saturday, in the middle of the day. You could not get more genteel than RAAF lawyers, specialist reserve people, and here we were seeing the hardcore soldiering at Enoggera. Then, if you take another step higher to someone like Corporal Smith, in terms of the special forces combat engineers, to be back in Afghanistan on his second tour, at such a young age, just puts me in awe of the honours that he has been deservedly awarded.

The family of Corporal Scott James Smith will read these words, hopefully, in the years to come and take some consolation from the incredible awe and respect that this Parliament of Australia, on behalf of all Australians, has for the sacrifice that they have had to endure. I know that none of this will make it particularly easy for them, but I hope that in the years to come they will recognise how appreciative we are of the great professionalism of our soldiers.

We heard from the member for Greenway about the great changes that have occurred in Afghanistan, a particularly troubled nation. Before this condolence motion, we were acknowledging the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombing. Sadly, the two are horribly linked, because we know that we have to take the initiative in this modern world where terrorism is easily exported. That, sadly, means putting Australians in harm's way. We have to take the initiative in places like Afghanistan. We have to engage in our region, in places like those parts of Pakistan where terrorism is rife. Nearly 40,000 people have been killed there—6,000 or 7,000 of those in the military and police. We have to be constantly on the alert and that means we have to make that horrible decision to send Australians overseas. On behalf of all Australians, I thank the family of Corporal Scott James Smith for allowing him to go over there and I acknowledge his great sacrifice. Lest we forget.