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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12647

Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong) (17:20): I join with colleagues on both sides of this House and the people of Kooyong in paying my respects following the tragic deaths on 29 October this year in Afghanistan of Captain Bryce Duffy, Corporal Ashley Birt and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin. These brave men lost their lives, and seven of their fellow Australian soldiers were injured, at the hands of a rogue member of the Afghan National Army in an attack at a forward operating base in southern Afghanistan. In the same attack an Afghan interpreter was also tragically killed. My heart goes out to the families of Captain Duffy, Corporal Birt and Lance Corporal Gavin.

Captain Duffy, who was based in Townsville with the 4th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, was on his second deployment to Afghanistan after bravely volunteering when a fellow officer was wounded in action. He was a decorated soldier with the Australian Defence Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and a meritorious unit citation, among many others. He is survived by his wife, his mother and his family.

Corporal Birt is survived by his parents, Don and Linda, and his brother, Dale, and was a highly qualified geospatial technician and a decorated soldier. He was a recipient of the Australian Defence Medal, the Australian Service Medal with clasp Solomon Islands II and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, among many others. Prior to his first deployment to Afghanistan, Corporal Birt had served in the Solomon Islands on operation Anode, and on operation Queensland Flood Assist.

Lance Corporal Gavin was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment—2RAR—based in Townsville. He was a decorated soldier awarded the Australian Service Medal with clasp Timor-Leste, Australian Defence Medal and Australian Active Service Medal with clasp International Coalition Against Terrorism, among many others. He was well trained as a combat first aider, Pashto linguist and infantry support weapons operator. Lance Corporal Gavin was on his first deployment to Afghanistan and is survived by his wife and three children.

Having travelled to Afghanistan earlier this year in a bipartisan delegation, I have seen firsthand the valuable work our soldiers are doing to bring stability and security to this troubled region and, by definition, to bring stability and security to Australia and our interests both here and abroad. We should not lose faith in this cause, despite these tragic deaths. It is a difficult task and there will be setbacks. But as a nation our interests are advanced by this deployment. We will never forget the sacrifice of Captain Duffy, Corporal Birt and Lance Corporal Gavin. Our thoughts and our prayers are with their families at this very difficult time. Lest we forget.