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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3473

Mr TURNBULL (Leader of the Opposition) (2:06 PM) —I second the motion and rise on behalf of the opposition to join with the Prime Minister in expressing our condolences over the loss of one of our nation’s finest, Sergeant Brett Till. Sergeant Till died while attempting to clear a safe path for his mates and for innocent civilians in southern Afghanistan. He gave his life while protecting the lives of others, and his courage and self-sacrifice will be remembered forever.

Sergeant Till, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, was noted by the Chief of the Defence Force as an expert in his field and a highly regarded member of the Army’s Incident Response Regiment. The select group Sergeant Till belonged to, commonly called EOD techs, those courageous men and women from the corps of engineers and ordnance, are among the bravest of the brave. They patrol straight into danger zones to clear the way of mines, roadside bombs and other suspicious objects. They expose themselves not only to the risks of a mined road or the explosive device itself but also to enemy fire bearing down on them while they undertake their dangerous task.

They are hand-picked by the Army for their calm and skilled hands and their disciplined minds. They are part of a dedicated, selfless and courageous group that say, ‘Keep your head down; let me clear the way.’ Sergeant Till lived by this motto and he will never be forgotten for his heroism and for his sacrifice.

At a ceremony before Sergeant Till’s body was returned to Australia, the Commanding Officer of the Special Operations Task Group said:

“Without question, Brett’s work on the day he died saved the lives of his mates.”

“He was a man who, with his team, would deliberately place himself directly between dangerous and unstable high explosive devices and the soldiers of SOTG—

the Special Operations Task Group—

on a daily basis, in order to ensure that they could carry out their important mission to make this country a safer place.

Today, the prayers and thoughts of all Australians are with Sergeant Till’s family, especially Bree-Anna and his children, Jacob and Taleah, and all of his mates.

Tragically, Sergeant Till was the 10th fatality in Australia’s Afghanistan campaign. It is a terrible toll for the nation to bear. It represents an incalculable sacrifice by 10 soldiers and their families and loved ones. The nation mourns their loss but we forever remember and honour their sacrifice.

The SPEAKER —As a mark of respect I invite honourable members to rise in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The SPEAKER —I thank the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Albanese) adjourned.