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Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Page: 1063

Mr RAMSEY (8:21 PM) —We stand in the chamber together today united in grief and mourning at the tragic loss of 21-year-old Sapper Jamie Larcombe, who was killed in Afghanistan on the weekend. It is the second fatality for the Darwin based 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, which laid to rest Corporal Richard Atkinson less than a week earlier. Sapper Larcombe was the 23rd Australian to die in Afghanistan while serving in the Defence Force, but it never seems to get any easier to accept, understand or come to terms with the loss of a fine young Australian. The death of Sapper Larcombe, a country boy from Kangaroo Island, leaves his immediate family stricken with grief. His mother, father, three younger sisters and a loving partner have been dealt the most unimaginable blow.

While Sapper Larcombe does not come from my electorate, I am moved to speak because Parndana could be any one of a hundred or more country communities that I represent. I come from just such a community. I know how strong the family and friendship links are in such communities and how individual tragedies are amplified because everybody knows everybody. I have spoken to the member representing Kangaroo Island, Jamie Briggs, who is unable to be in parliament this week and who would wish to speak on this motion. He is concerned for the family, and has written to them, and the community. When he returns he will seek space in another debate to make a statement.

While I do not know them personally, I know that Jamie’s school mates, his footy club mates and all in the Parndana and Kangaroo Island community who knew him well are sharing his family’s pain and grief. Jamie was fulfilling his dream to serve his country in the armed forces. By all accounts, he loved his job. Every member of our forces knows the risks and their families know the risks, but still, thankfully, we have the best of the best putting their name forward to be first in the line of resistance of those who would dismantle our societies and seek to suppress the democratic freedoms sought by the oppressed.

This brave young soldier was on his first tour of Afghanistan when he was shot by insurgents while on patrol on Saturday night. An Afghan interpreter was killed in the same incident. A true-blue South Aussie, he grew up playing footy and riding motorbikes and was a volunteer in the local CFS. He was a passionate Adelaide Crows follower and idolised Andrew McLeod. He loved life, his family and his country. He had dreams and aspirations for the future. He was a dearly loved and cherished member of a family and a community. Sapper Larcombe was a dedicated and honourable young man and I, like all Australians, am deeply saddened by his death. I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends, community and regiment. My thoughts are with his mates and all Australians fighting in Afghanistan. Rest in peace, Jamie: you have done your family and your country proud.