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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 43


Senator MINCHIN (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (3:37 PM) —On behalf of the coalition, I rise to support the motion moved by Senator Evans. The Liberal and National parties join in offering our sincere condolences to the family of Private Greg Sher, who lost his life while serving our country in Afghanistan. The coalition is deeply saddened by the tragic death of Private Sher, who was killed on 4 January this year when Taliban insurgents fired a rocket at an Oruzgan provincial patrol base. Private Sher was highly regarded by his colleagues of the 1st Commando Regiment and those he served with in the Special Operations Task Group. He was also held in high regard in Melbourne, where he initially trained, having come to this country, as Senator Evans said, from South Africa. Private Sher was an experienced member of the ADF, having joined the Australian Army in 1998 and having served in East Timor in 2002. In a statement released after his death, Private Sher’s family described him as a ‘man of purpose and committed determination’. They said:

He was the sort of mate who would do anything for anyone, and his friends knew him for the great guy that he was.

He was a loyal and loving family member who always put his family high on his list of priorities.

Our thoughts and prayers are very much with Private Sher’s family at this most wretched of times for them.

Private Sher was the eighth Australian soldier that we have lost in the conflict in Afghanistan, and his death again highlights the dangers that our personnel face every day in that country. As a member of the cabinet that first committed our troops to Afghanistan, the fight against the Taliban remains vitally important. Our troops are assisting the Afghani people with their own security and with building their own democracy and are helping to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a haven for terrorists. We do not take for granted the work that our troops are doing there. We appreciate the bravery and professionalism of our forces as they face enormous challenges in Afghanistan against a vicious and hostile Taliban insurgency. We are reminded of the important sacrifices made by our ADF personnel and their families every day when on deployment in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor or the Solomon Islands.

Private Sher made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, and we will remain forever indebted to him for that. To Private Sher’s family: we offer our sincere condolences for your great loss. Private Sher was clearly an honourable and talented man who will be missed by all those who knew him. I also take this opportunity to send on behalf of the coalition our best wishes to all those Australian personnel still serving in Afghanistan and elsewhere and to their families at home.