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Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Page: 794

Senator ABETZ (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (12:37 PM) —Last Saturday week Australia lost one of its finest, and with it a new name was added to our list of heroes. I talk of Sapper Jamie Larcombe, who was killed in action whilst serving in Afghanistan. The coalition joins the Senate in mourning the loss of this young Australian fighting to free Afghanistan from the bases and the curse of international terrorism. Sapper Larcombe’s life was taken too soon, in a worthy cause and in a selfless manner—as a volunteer. That is why his memory and legacy will live on forever not only in the hearts of his family but in an exceptionally proud and grateful nation.

Jamie Larcombe was born in September 1989 on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. He was a community-minded person who volunteered at the local CFS. He was a keen Crows supporter and a footy player himself for the local Western Districts club. By all accounts the 21-year-old was a fun-loving individual who loved life and loved to give where he could. Our thoughts are with his parents, Steven and Tricia, his three sisters, Ann-Marie, Emily and April, and his partner, Rhiannon, who are suffering unimaginable sadness and grief. We are also thinking of the members of the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, who lost a good mate, and the close-knit community of Kangaroo Island, who lost one of their own, described and known locally as ‘an awesome bloke’.

It is right, it is proper and it is important that we give recognition to the young life laid down for our nation and the international community. We hope that no family ever has to experience that which Sapper Larcombe’s family has suffered. Yet he volunteered on our behalf so that we do not have to experience terrorism on our doorstep. I am again reminded of the words of Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC, our latest VC winner, when he said:

I want my children to be able to live as everyone does now without the fear of getting on a bus and having it blow up.

I do what I do because I believe in the country that we live in. I believe that we are making a difference in stemming the flow of terrorism.

I urge everyone to remember that Sapper Larcombe was a hero. He was a young man who made the ultimate sacrifice, a volunteer in the service of his country. We are proud to stand behind the men and women of the Australian Defence Force. In Afghanistan they are fighting alongside armed forces of many other nations to ensure that the country is never again used as a base for international terrorism—a mission to ensure the security of all Australians and to make the world a safer place.

Of course, in that task many Afghanis are involved, and we note the passing of an interpreter in the same incident. Similarly, our thoughts and prayers are with the interpreter’s family. Whilst that family are far removed from Australia, I am sure that the pain and suffering they are going through is identical to that which the Larcombe family is experiencing as we speak.

The commanding officer of Mentoring Task Force 2, Lieutenant Colonel Darren Huxley, summed it up perfectly when he said that Sapper Larcombe was a young soldier who epitomised the core values of an Australian soldier. Let me quote:

Jamie Larcombe is now part of our nation’s history and his name will echo in Anzac Day toasts long after all of us have gone.

It was Sapper Larcombe’s life ambition to serve our great nation. He made the ultimate sacrifice to serve our country, embodying every aspect of the Anzac spirit. Today we pause to recognise his service and to record our gratitude and the thanks of a proud nation. May his service and sacrifice in the cause of freedom be an inspiration to all. A thankful nation salutes his volunteer spirit, his service and his sacrifice.