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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3349

Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (21:26): Last Friday I was lucky enough to join the honourable member for Eden-Monaro, the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Dr Mike Kelly, to farewell Force Support Unit Six, or FSU 6, as they departed for Afghanistan. I was lucky that I was not asked to speak after Dr Kelly, because he said it all. He spoke about family, about respect, about love, about duty and about responsibility. At the morning tea afterwards, I spoke with a soldier who was about to leave his wife and two beautiful girls, in grade 6 and grade 3, for his third tour. I asked the girls if they were proud of their dad or if they were going to miss him. They said, 'Of course we will miss him, but we are very, very proud for what he is doing.' I asked him what he was doing and he said that he was about to leave on his third tour. He said that he was really looking forward to re-establishing ties in Afghanistan. He was really looking forward to seeing what he had started on his first two tours and to see how far down the track things had gone. He was really excited about catching up with the Afghans he had met, about the relationships he had made professionally and socially and about what they had done to their country.

Our troops are doing a professional job. They are doing that because they are professionals. They are there not to perpetuate war but to ensure that this country, Afghanistan, is given every opportunity to provide for itself. War is no longer two lines of soldiers shooting at each other. The members for Melbourne and Denison would do well to remember this. A friend of mine who came back from Afghanistan said:

There will be a form of democracy in Afghanistan, but it probably won't look too much like Australia's. It will be their form of democracy. It will be what they are prepared to do and what they are prepared to fight for.

We cannot do everything, but what we can do is make sure that every opportunity is given them to provide the best for their own country. I agree with the member for Canberra: withdrawal is a long and difficult process but it must also be orderly and ordered. We cannot draw a line in the sand arbitrarily and say that we shall be out of there by then, because we do not know what is going to happen. It is a fluid situation in Afghanistan and it has to be treated as such.

The people of Australia must bear with this parliament and trust our soldiers and the services that they are delivering. FSU 6 are deploying to three sites: Tarin Kowt, the United Arab Emirates and Oruzgan province. I appreciate what they are doing and how they are going about their work and I think everyone in this place would do well to remember that these people are going over there. To draw a line arbitrarily just to get a bit of press at the wrong time of the day, because you were not part of the leadership debate—

Debate interrupted.