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Remarks at the 1st brigade welcome home reception, Parliament House, Darwin



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PRIME MINISTEROF AUSTRALIA

THEHON TONY ABBOTT

REMARKS AT THE 1ST BRIGADE WELCOME HOME RECEPTION, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, DARWIN Saturday, 1 March 2014 Darwin Prime Minister E&OE Your Excellency, Chief Minister, Chief of Army, ladies and gentlemen. On our nation’s behalf, I salute the returned soldiers from Australia’s longest war. It has ended, not with victory, not with defeat, but with hope that Afghanistan will be a better country for our presence. After more than a decade of inconclusive conflict, it is natural to wonder whether it was worth the effort. People will come to their own conclusions, but this is mine. Thanks to you, there are now some 26 girls’ schools in Uruzgan Province where formerly there were none. Thanks to you, there are now doctors and nurses for the most sick and vulnerable where formerly there were few. Thanks to you, there are now 200 kilometres of sealed roads and bridges where none existed before - it’s in the audit of your war. Thanks to you, Afghans know that there are others who are ready to work and if necessary, to die for them. And we should never underestimate the power of good example, in this case, the best example of all. We don’t know - we can’t know - what the future holds for the people of Afghanistan, but we do know that every day you were there was better than it would have been. We do know that every day will be better than it would have been because you were there. Like your forebears, who fought militarism, who fought Nazism and Fascism and who fought Communism, you have fought for the universal decencies of mankind - the rights of the weak against the strong, the rights of the poor against the rich and the rights of all to strive for the very best they can. That’s what Australians do; we always have and we always will. Australians don’t fight to conquer; we fight to help, to build and to serve. So yes, it was worth it. The price was high but the cause was great and the success has been sufficient. Some will disagree and that’s their right. By all means, disagree with the governments that have sent our armed forces into harm’s way, but no one should ever scorn the soldiers who have done their duty as best they can. This is but one of many welcome home parades that will culminate next year. Today we salute the soldiers of 2nd Cavalry Regiment Battle Group, 4th and 5th Combined Teams Uruzgan and all the other units that were represented on our streets today. We salute all the 30,000 Australian men and women who have served in a far country for a good cause. We mourn the 40 who did not return. We grieve with the more than 250 with serious injuries and we acknowledge the unseen wounds of thousands. You have done things that no one should have to do. You have seen things that no one should have to see. You have acted in our country’s name, wearing our country’s uniform and our country won’t let you down. We also acknowledge the families of those who have served. They also serve who only stand and wait. Some hundreds marched today, some thousands will march in the year ahead, but this is more than those who march. Our past and our future marches with you. Our best deeds, our best hopes, our best selves were on display today. As was said of the original ANZACs - their example rises as will always rise above the mists of ages, a monument to great hearted-men and for their nation, a possession forever. May God bless you and welcome home.