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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 625

Mr STEPHEN SMITH (Minister for Defence) (2:06 PM) —I rise to associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in expressing condolence for Sapper Jamie Larcombe. It is another terrible blow for our nation, another tragedy for an Australian family. I express my condolences to his parents, Steven and Tricia; his younger sisters, Ann-Marie, Emily and April; and his partner, Rhiannon. At just 21 years of age, Sapper Larcombe was our 23rd death in action in Afghanistan, operating, as he was, south-east of Patrol Base Wali in the Mirabad Valley. As the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have indicated, he was another member of our 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, which has a proud history of almost 100 years. Coming so soon, as it does, after the death in action of Corporal Richard Atkinson, this will be a terrible blow to the combat engineers and a terrible blow to our Army and our Defence Force personnel. It will also be a terrible reminder to 22 other families, in particular the Atkinson family, with Richard Atkinson’s funeral just one week ago.

At 21 years of age, Sapper Larcombe had been in the Army for just over three years. He recently saw his third anniversary of entrance into the Army. He conducted operations in Operation Padang Assist, in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and also as part of the Mentoring Task Force-Two. In addition to his death, we saw the death of an Afghan interpreter assisting Australian Defence Force personnel in Oruzgan Province, and we express our condolences to his family. Sapper Larcombe will have our deepest gratitude and our deepest respect, killed in action, as he was, under a United Nations mandate operating under the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, seeking to pursue Australia’s national security interests by helping to stare down international terrorism. Our thoughts are with his family, his loved ones and his friends.