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Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Page: 4460


Senator FAULKNER (Minister for Defence) (3:36 PM) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate records its deep regret at the death, on 18 July 2009, of Private Benjamin Ranaudo, while on combat operations in Afghanistan, and places on record its appreciation of his service to his country, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

I have met many men and women of the Australian Defence Force and I am always impressed with their professionalism and courage. And Private Benjamin Ranaudo, whose life and service we honour today, was himself a brave and dedicated soldier.

He joined the Army over three years ago and had previous operational experience in East Timor. Private Ranaudo was a popular and valued member of the Townsville based First Battalion Royal Australian Regiment and he was serving with the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan at the time of his death. On 18 July this year, Private Ranaudo was killed by an antipersonnel explosive device during a cordon and search operation in the Baluchi Valley, some 25 kilometres north of Tarin Kowt. The same blast that claimed the life of this fine soldier also injured another Australian serviceman and three innocent Afghani civilians—and our thoughts are with them as they recover from their wounds.

Private Ranaudo’s career record speaks of a professional young man, very well trained, with an extraordinary array of completed courses. I have heard how highly skilled an infantryman he was—someone who always put his mates first, who was a pleasure to be around and who displayed the true qualities of an Australian soldier. All of us in this chamber know that we are, in Afghanistan, engaged with the international community in a very challenging campaign. Our troops in Afghanistan are doing a dangerous and difficult job. As we remember Benjamin Ranaudo today—the 11th member of the ADF to be killed on active duty in Afghanistan—that danger is brought home to us. Today, as we offer our sympathy to Benjamin Ranaudo’s family and friends—and of course as we offer our support to them as well—we say to the family and friends of servicemen Sergeant Andrew Russell, Trooper David ‘Poppy’ Pearce, Sergeant Matthew Locke, Private Luke Worsley, Lance Corporal Jason Marks, Signaller Sean McCarthy, Lieutenant Michael Fussell, Private Greg Sher, Corporal Mathew Hopkins and Sergeant Brett Till that we have not forgotten you, either. We have not forgotten the brave Australian soldiers whom you and we have lost in the fight against the Taliban.

For our troops in Afghanistan, danger is an everyday reality. They face it with the courage and the dedication that is the hallmark of the Australian Defence Force wherever they may be. The continued use of mines and improvised explosive devices by the Taliban is an insidious part of this insurgency. These devices, by their very nature, are designed to kill and to maim indiscriminately. IEDs are responsible for a substantial number of civilian and ISAF casualties each month in Afghanistan. And as competent, careful and professional as our soldiers are, IEDs are a constant danger.

Our hearts are very much with the family of Private Benjamin Ranaudo. I spent some time with them at the ramp ceremony and the funeral service. Both occasions were very moving and great tributes were paid to Private Ranaudo, not only by his family but also by those who served alongside him. On behalf of the government I offer my very sincere sympathy to his family—to his mother Jennifer, his father Angelo and all of his brothers and sisters. It is a very sad and extraordinarily difficult time for them. I can only hope that they do find some comfort in the recognition that the Australian parliament is giving to Private Ranaudo today.