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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12688


Mr SIMPKINS (Cowan) (18:01): With the same sadness that other members have expressed, I consider it an honour to be able to stand in this place to pass on my condolences to the family of Corporal Scott James Smith. As we have heard, Scott James Smith was doing important work—important work for the people of Afghanistan and important work for his colleagues in the Australian Army. He was doing things that needed to be done. As we know, sometimes, in order to get important things done and to protect freedoms and liberties—and to make Afghanistan a better place—somebody has to step up and somebody has to put their life on the line. On this occasion, the person who put his life on the line for a good cause was Corporal Scott James Smith. We thank him for that and I also thank his partner, Liv; his parents, Katrina Paterson and Murray Smith; and his sister, Roxanne.

There have been 39 Australian deaths in Afghanistan and just yesterday we spoke about Sapper Penpraze and his tragic death at the Holsworthy range. We acknowledge that, with service in the military, the reality is that one's life will always be on the line, whether in training or in operations. Corporal Smith was a combat engineer within the Special Operations Task Group. The task of clearing and searching compounds for improvised explosive devices falls to such soldiers. Corporal Smith was just 24 years old but already a veteran, given his many years of service to our nation. He was an exceptional soldier with the highest qualities and he possessed charisma—clearly he was a very good junior NCO and a young man who no doubt had great potential to rise through the ranks. Corporal Smith was clearly respected by his unit and by his colleagues and he was loved by his family

This is a reminder to us all that the decisions we make in this place to send our soldiers, sailors and airmen around the world can sometimes have the gravest of consequences. It is encouraging, though, that we have, overwhelmingly, seen great signs of progress in Afghanistan. The country is a better place for the presence of our soldiers and for the sacrifices they have made. We have more work to do in the next couple of years and we hope that there will be no more deaths from within our forces, but we must nevertheless face the reality that there may be. That happens when we put our people in harm's way.

I thank his family for the sacrifice he made and offer my sympathy for the gap in their lives that they will no doubt feel for years to come.

I express my condolences and my gratitude on behalf of the people of Cowan for the sacrifice that this brave young soldier made and wish his family all the best in the very difficult times ahead.