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ABC News 24: 9am News -

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(generated from captions) them to Kandahar or to

Germany. We will interrupt

you. There we can take you live

now to Canberra where Prime

Minister Julia Gillard is

talking. Let's take a listen.

As Prime Minister I offer

my condolences and the

condolences of the Australian

nation to the family and

friends of Sergeant Brett Wood.

Sergeant Wood was lost to us

overnight. He was a very brave

man, a brave soldier, a

decorated soldier, he's been

described by the chief of our

Defence Force this morning as a

magnificent soldier. He was on

his third deployment to

Afghanistan. Our hearts go out

to his wife, who would be

struggling to absorb this very

dreadful news. Our hearts also

go out to his family and

friends as they seek to come to

terms with his loss. He was a

young man who had dedicated his

life to the defence of this

nation. This is a very

difficult day for the nation.

But most particularly a very

difficult I difficult day for

his family. At the same time,

the nation needs to absorb the

news that we have also had five

soldiers wounded in

Afghanistan. Two were wounded

in the same incident as

Sergeant Wood, and they are

seriously ill. Our thoughts are

with them, they will receive

the best of medical care, and

our thoughtings are also with

their families who would be so

desperately worried about them

at this time. Separately, three

other soldiers were also

wounded. They too are receiving

the best of medical care. Their

families would be very worried

about them. And our thoughts go

to their families and to those

soldiers as they deal with

their injuries. This is a very

difficult day. This is a lot of

bad news for the nation to hear

all at the same time. Every

loss in Afghanistan hurts us as

a nation. And with so much bad

news before the nation today, I

know that there will be some

who despair and wonder why we

are there in Afghanistan and

whether we are making any

progress. I think the best

thing I can say to people is to

reiterate the words of Ben

Robert Smith, our most recent

VC winner. He said to me, and

he said to the nation, 'We are

making a difference in

Afghanistan.' And e w we are

making a difference in

Afghanistan. Progress is being

made. It's difficult, it's hard

fought for, and we are entering

a fight ing season which will

challenge us. But progress is

being made in Afghanistan and

we are there for all of the

right reasons. We are there to

ensure that Afghanistan does

not again become a safe haven

for terrorists. Of course as we

look at the progress that is

being made in Afghanistan, we

know that it comes at a terrible cost. Particularly

today we know that it comes at the cost of Australian

lives. And it's the dedication

and bravery of people like

Sergeant Wood who enable us to

make the kind of progress that

we are making in Afghanistan.

So this is a difficult around

tragic day in the life of our

nation. Once again, I do want

to convey my condolences and

the condolences of the

Australian people to the family

would and friends of zrlthd Wood who

would be just - Sergeant Wood

who would be just in

unimaginable pain today having

heard this news overnight. I

will take a few questions. You

said that we're making a difference in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is really making a difference in Australia as well

with the loss of brave men like

Sergeant Wood today. Spladen

has gone, there is a sense that there's, you know, some

fundamental underground shift

has taken place. Can you

suggest if there's any division

of the time table to get us

out? The time table remains the

same. That is, we are there

training the Afghan National

Army. We are there enabling the

Afghan people to take security

of their own nation. President

aintention that Afghanistan Karzai has announced his

with in a position to do that

by 2014. As I said to the

Parliament when I spoke on this

matter late last year, we will

be there seeing the mission

through. There will be a

process of transition,

transition won't be a day or a

moment in time, it will be a

process, as areas of

Afghanistan are sufficiently stabilised, and sufficient

security forces, local security

forces are trained, that they

can take over providing

security themselves. So we need to transition when the

conditions are right. There is

no point going out only to have

to go back in because we have

transitioned at time that

conditions aren't right. We do

confront a fighting season as

we move to the warm er weather

in Afghanistan. We know the

intensity of fighting

accelerates in that warmer

weather and, you know, our

soldier s will be out there

doing some very brave and

difficult things during this

period. One Gasry measure of

any war is the ratio of people

killed and wounded on both

sides. Can you take the

Australian people into your

confidence and tell them what

ratio this element of the war

experienced by Australian

soldiers is with regards to the

numbers killed or injured among

the Taliban insurgents? Look, I

am not in a position to give

you numbers in that sense. I

mean, this is not a conventional war where soldiers in uniform stand in uniform stand on battle

lines and confront each other

and continues quently it is not

the sort of war - consequently

it is not the sort of war where

one can do tallies of losses in

the way that may have been done

for conflicts past. This is a

very difficult struggle in very

difficult circumstances. We

went to Afghanistan because of

terrorism. We went to

who had Afghanistan because terrorists

who had been trained there took

Australian lives and the lives

of so many others. And in

making the place safe what we

are seeking to do is deny

terrorists the opportunity to

train there so that is all

about, you know, security on

the ground. It It's all about a

conflict where people don't

year uni forms and don't

it 's a identify themselves. So where

it 's a far more difficult

place to fight, then perhaps

traditional war fare that some of the imagery of

people would be more familiar

with. 24 have been killed

confirm many more have been now. 160 wounded, can you

wounded on the other side? I am

absolute ly confident that in

terms of our losses versus the

losses of the insurgents that the ivern the ivern sur gentles have lost

far more. Yes, I am absolutely

confident of that. That is one of us to clear, to hold ... so when it stabilised and it when it stabilised and it is

stabilising big gains have been

made, then security leadership

can transition to can transition to local

forces The CDFC said earlier

the Beth of Bin Laden had had

virtually no impact in

Afghanistan. I am wondering if

you could characterise how you

see the connection between the

Taliban today in Afghanistan

and al-Qaeda and is it worth

stepping up negotiations with

the Taliban We know

terrorism, global terrorism is

a complex, multiheaded beast.

Of course blad anne was the face - Bin Laden was the face known to the world as the

leader of al-Qaeda. But, as I

said when we discuss ed the

death of Bin Laden the death of

Bin Laden does not mean that al-Qaeda is dead. It's al-Qaeda is dead. It's been

dealt a very big blow but it

doesn't mean that al-Qaeda is

dead. And certain ly global terrorism doesn't come in one shape

one man. So we need to continue the fight against terrorism and

particularly to deny

Afghanistan as a place terrorists to train. What we know is that

know is that the al-Qaeda was

facilitied for training in

Afghanistan. That is well

known. We have seen the

consequences of that consequences of that training. Tragically in violent incidents

in our world that have taken thousands of lives, including

the lives of are there on the same mission

of strategic denial. What are

the clearest science of you for

progress being made in Afghanistan? The clearest signs

for me are the reports that I

get back from people who have

been on the ground, which is

why I took you to the words of Ben Roberts-Smith. What we

measure in terms of progress on

the ground is the degree of

security that is experienced by

our personnel and also by

the number of Afghan National

Army personnel who have been

trained and the level to which

they have been trained. We measure the number of police

who have been who have been trained. We are

also training police. And the

level to which they've been trained. We measure changes in

governance and in basic conditions for the Afghan

people, alongside our military

effort is a considerable aid

and development effort, indeed

they work in and I've met with them when I

have travelled to Afghanistan

myself, both the military

commanders but also our senior

civilian representatives who

are leading our aid teams

there. So we track all of this.

But in terms of the powerful

images I think the powerful

images come from the people who

have been on the ground. And

can say to you, as Ben

Roberts-Smith does say, that it

is a different place from the

Afghanistan that he first went

to. That etha he can see that

and feel that in terms of the security. He can see that and feel that in terms of the

security for the local

population. He can can see that

and feel that in the activities

that the local population that the local population now

feel they can do, whereas

before they cowered in fear,

things we would take for

granted like having local

markets and commercial activity

where people can go and, you

know, buy food and do the

things that we just say are

just such a normal part of

daily life, we don't even think about it

be done by local people when soldiers like Ben Roberts-Smith

first went to Afghanistan.

Thank you very much. So that is the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard there perhap wrapping up that press

conference in Canberra. Hello,

I'm Joe O'Brien taking over the

from the breakfast team. Julia

Gillard offering her

condolences to the family of Sergeant Brett Wood, who was killed in Afghanistan

overnight. Five other have been injured in two separate incidents. Julia

Gillard is saying there the