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Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Page: 7577

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:01): I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death overnight of Sergeant Todd Langley, while serving with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan, and place on record its appreciation of his service to the country and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

A brave Australian died yesterday. He died on the battlefield from his wounds. His family was informed by members of his unit last night. While the parliament pauses to remember him this afternoon, the partnered Afghan National Police and Special Operations Task Group operation in which he was killed is still ongoing. That work goes on.

Sergeant Todd Langley was an Australian soldier, a highly experienced commando. He deployed to Afghanistan five times in the last six years and had previously deployed to East Timor twice. Sergeant Langley spent his youth risking himself for us. His sacrifices and those of his family have been great, even before his death. Now he literally has given everything he had to give.

Todd was born in Margaret River in our west. He was 35 years old when he died. Sergeant Langley's family has asked us to respect their privacy and we will. Even as we want to offer them a hand of comfort and words of respect, we cannot claim to share or understand their true feelings of loss and desolation. I know that our moments of sadness cannot be compared to the grief that they are feeling today.

Sergeant Langley's unit, the 2nd Commando Regiment, is a young regiment in our Army. The 4th Battalion, RAR was renamed 2nd Commando Regiment in 2009, not that long ago. Whilst this is a very young regiment, it is now very old in sacrifice. Todd is the eighth member of this unit to be killed in Afghanistan. Members of this regiment are in the thick of the fight as part of the Special Operations Task Group even now. I want them to know that we are proud of them. We are all proud of them.

Our thoughts are not only with the Langley family today but with the family of another Australian commando wounded in the same operation. He was moved to the medical facility at Tarin Kowt and received emergency treatment to stabilise his wounds before being moved to Kandahar for specialist medical treatment. He has been in touch with his family. He is in a serious but stable condition and of course we are all now waiting for news of his recovery.

As we pause to reflect today on the loss of the 28th Australian life in Afghanistan, I want to speak not only to the family of Todd Langley but to the families of everyone in the Australian Defence Force. To every Australian defence family, on behalf of every Australian family, we support you; we are grateful to you; we never forget. When I have visited our defence communities around the nation, whether it has been in Perth or Sydney, whether it has been in Townsville or Darwin, and when I have met with defence families and attended funerals, from Kangaroo Island to Kingscliff, I have seen very special Australians.

I am firmly convinced that our mission in Afghanistan is in our national interest, but I know it is the families who carry the weight of that mission, not just the men and women in uniform but also all of those who wait at home: the spouses, the partners and most particularly the children. As we stop to remember Sergeant Todd Langley today, I want every Defence Force family to know we are thinking of them too.