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Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Page: 36

Mr ABBOTT (Leader of the Opposition) (6:04 PM) —Since this parliament last met Australia has lost five fine soldiers. I join with the Prime Minister in mourning the loss of Private Nathan Bewes, Trooper Jason Brown, Private Tomas Dale, Private Grant Kirby and Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney—all fine soldiers, all serving their country and all now lost in the war in Afghanistan. They were professional soldiers. They were dedicated to the Army, they lived for the Army and they died for their country. We mourn their deaths and we support the mission on which they were embarked.

I join with the Prime Minister in stating and restating the support of the coalition for the cause for which they were fighting. Like the Prime Minister I remind the House that there is no such thing as a risk-free conflict. There is no such thing as risk-free combat. A serious country with serious armed forces has to be prepared to take casualties if the cause is just, and this is a just cause. Helping to build a more stable society in Afghanistan is a good cause; helping to train the Afghan National Army is a good cause; helping to build decent civil institutions is a good cause; helping to promote ordinary human decencies in a troubled country is a good cause; and trying to deny Afghanistan as a base to those who would do us harm in Australia is undeniably in Australia’s national interest and is fully supported by the coalition which I lead.

Our armed forces in Afghanistan have a hard job and a dangerous job, and let’s not kid ourselves: it may well be a long job. As the Prime Minister said, they will not stay longer than is necessary but we should not pretend that it may not be a long and difficult task. As the Prime Minister said, we have lost five fine men but we best honour their memory by staying the course on which they were embarked. We mourn with their families. We mourn their passing but we celebrate their lives and we celebrate their cause.