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Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Page: 7


Senator CONROY (Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate) (1:02 PM) —I move:

That the Senate record its deep sorrow at the death, on 2 February 2011,of Corporal Richard Atkinson while on combat operations in Afghanistan, and places on record its appreciation of his service to our country, and tenders its profound sympathy to his family and friends in their bereavement.

Like 21 members of the Australian Defence Force before him, Corporal Richard Atkinson lost his life in service to his nation in Afghanistan. Twenty-two-year-old Corporal Atkinson was from the Australian Army’s 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Darwin.

Corporal Atkinson was born in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1988. He joined the Army in 2007 and completed recruit and combat-engineering basic training prior to a posting to the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Darwin. In 2009, he was promoted to lance corporal. His commanding officer noted the leadership he displayed in bringing his section to combat readiness during his preparations for operations in Afghanistan. For his efforts during this important phase, he was promoted to corporal prior to deployment in October 2010. Corporal Atkinson was leading his combat engineer section as a search commander when he was killed in action. He had previously been deployed to Indonesia in October 2009 as part of Operation Padang Assist.

Corporal Atkinson leaves behind his fiancee, Dannielle; his mum and dad, Ross and Kate; brother, James; and sister-in-law, Sumah. The government, together with the parliament, the defence community and the Australian people, deeply mourn the loss of Corporal Atkinson, alongside those who have died before him in service to our nation. We acknowledge the profound sense of loss experienced by Corporal Atkinson’s fiancee, Dannielle, and his family and friends, as well as his mates who served with him in the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment in Afghanistan. Corporal Atkinson died before his 23rd birthday, before he could realise his dream of a future family with his fiancee, Dannielle. No words can compensate for his loss, but I hope all who knew and loved Corporal Atkinson can take some comfort in the knowledge that his sacrifice was not in vain. He will not be forgotten by a grateful nation.

I also want to acknowledge the injuries suffered by a soldier in the same incident in which Corporal Atkinson was killed. I am advised that the soldier is receiving the best possible care and extend to him best wishes for his recovery. More than 160 Australian Defence Force personnel have been injured in Afghanistan. Many of them continue to live with the consequences of their service every day. All of them share the gratitude of a nation that honours their services on our behalf. Our thanks for their efforts are deep and abiding.