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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 7197


Mr PERRETT (MoretonGovernment Whip) (10:28): I also rise to speak on this condolence motion on the death of Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird MG, a former commando and a young man who gave great service to our country. He died during special ops activities in Afghanistan.

We have heard some great words from the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister for Defence and other members of parliament. I am speaking on behalf of the people of the Moreton electorate, who would all wish to pass on to Corporal Baird's family our thanks, condolences, prayers and thoughts.

Obviously, the first thing that strikes me about Corporal Baird, as someone born in 1981, is how young he was. With a name like Cameron Stewart Baird, he joins that long, proud tradition of people of Scottish descent. But I also note that he came from Tasmania, a state that makes up less than one per cent of the population but that currently provides nine per cent of our defence forces—a state that has always punched above its weight. Corporal Baird was one of its finest sons.

To have roll off the tongue talk about the fifth tour of duty in Afghanistan can only hint at the service that this man has given our country, the people of Afghanistan and freedom-loving people everywhere—particularly, as noted by some of the earlier speakers, women in Afghanistan, who have benefited from the establishment of a rule of law and security to combat some of the extremism visited upon the nation by the Taliban. This was his fifth tour of duty in Afghanistan, but I note that Corporal Baird had also done tours of duty in Iraq and Timor-Leste. I take some comfort from the fact that a few days before his death Corporal Baird would have shared in the pride of the award of the unit's Battle Honour, which was handed over on 19 June by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. I am at least sure that he would have had a few days during which its members would have been proud to be the only unit since Vietnam to have received such an honour from a Governor-General.

I also note another soldier and an airman were injured in the exchange. I know that they would be feeling nothing but grief at the death of their comrade, Corporal Baird, and I wish them well in their recovery.

Afghanistan, like any overseas engagement, is special work serving the nation. The nation has called on our ADF personnel to do great work and they are doing it. Obviously, when Australia calls on our ADF personnel to go overseas the people who suffer are the families. I particularly acknowledge Corporal Baird's family and friends and I wish them well in the years ahead as they look back on the great sacrifice that Corporal Baird has made for, and the great service he has given to, this nation. In our jobs as parliamentarians we have the smallest of insights—up at the pointy end of the plane—into what a FIFO lifestyle does for families, but I have never understood how our ADF personnel are able to do the job they do and still maintain loving families. There is sacrifice all around for our ADF personnel.

Sadly, parliament has stood 40 times to acknowledge the death of our ADF personnel in Afghanistan, 30 of those occasions being in this 43rd Parliament under Prime Minister Gillard. Here we are commencing her fourth year as Prime Minister and we have done this 30 times. I am lucky to have married a North Queenslander, and my in-laws live just down the road from Yungaburra. The Prime Minister was there on Saturday opening the Avenue of Honour, the 39 trees acknowledging the ADF personnel who have passed away in Afghanistan. Sadly, there will be another tree planted to acknowledge Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird. I look forward, in a horrible way, to making my way up to Yungaburra and seeing the trees. I will make my pilgrimage to acknowledge Corporal Baird and thank him for his service to the country.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Lyons ): I understand it is the wish of honourable members to signify at this stage their respect and sympathy by rising in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the chamber.