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Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Page: 38


Mr ROBERT (6:13 PM) —I join with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Defence in offering my heartfelt condolences to the families of five warriors slain on the battlefield—Private Bewes, Trooper Brown. Private Dale, Private Kirby and Lance Corporal MacKinney. They leave behind four wives and partners, four children and numerous siblings and parents. These men were doing what their nation asked of them, and it is therefore entirely appropriate that we all take measure of their sacrifice here today.

It was not so long ago that, under similar joyless circumstances, this House recounted the lives and tragic deaths of private Timothy Aplin, Private Benjamin Chuck and Private Scott Travers Palmer. Not long before that we remembered the lives of Sapper Jacob Moerland and Sapper Darren Smith, two sappers who the member for Paterson and I met personally in Afghanistan in April as they showed us their gear and spoke of their responsibilities, all whilst the sun shone down on the Australian flag they wore proudly on their shoulders.

Today as we gather in this place we again pause to remember those who have given their lives freely for their country—four infantrymen from the 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and one trooper from the Special Air Service Regiment—five Australians, fallen warriors who have paid the ultimate price so our world can dare to dream of a life free from terrorism and Afghans can dare to dream of a life like ours. George Orwell once said that we sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. The sacrifice of these men is not in vain. They are a beacon of inspiration to others to provide a better future for the people of Afghanistan. They stand tall as men who believed that all people, wherever they may live, should have the opportunity to live in a world free from violence, intimidation and repression.

Though it can only ever be a small comfort, these men died doing what they loved, serving their country in uniform beside their mates, asking no quarter and giving none, believing in the rightness of their cause. They were five highly professional, skilled and dedicated soldiers. They knew the great dangers; they accepted the great sacrifices, and they served in the fine traditions of our country, knowing that the only way that evil prospers is if good men and women do nothing. These five warriors will never share a place with those souls that stand by in ambivalence. Their place will be forever one of honour. They were soldiers. If freedom is indeed the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it, then these five stand tall in our nation’s history. The ancient warrior statesman and king Pericles, who founded the Athenian nation 2,500 years ago and led that nation during the first two years of the Peloponnesian War, stated:

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

Lads, your families will never forget you. Your mates will always honour you and this nation thanks you and salutes you.