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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5834

Mr STEPHEN SMITH (PerthMinister for Defence and Deputy Leader of the House) (14:07): I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in expressing both condolence to the family of Sapper Rowan Robinson and support for our mission in Afghanistan. Sapper Robinson was a young man of 23 years of age. He joined the Army in 2006 and was from the Sydney based Incident Response Regiment. After his initial recruitment and training, Sapper Robinson joined the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment and after four years of service with the combat engineers was posted to the Incident Response Regiment.

This was Sapper Robinson's second deployment to Afghanistan, he having been first deployed in 2007. He was described by his mates as happy go lucky and a great team member. He was first and foremost a dedicated and professional soldier whose skill belied his youth. Sapper Robinson's family can be proud of their son and their brother. As a combat engineer, Sapper Robinson made an enormous contribution to the protection of his mates and our troops in Afghanistan. His work was both hugely important and highly dangerous. As the Chief of Army said following his death, 'he led from the front, looking for threats and disabling those devices to keep his mates safe'. Sapper Robinson was awarded the Australian Active Service Medal with clasp, International Coalition against Terrorism; the Afghanistan Campaign Medal; the Australian Defence Medal; and the NATO ISAF medal. He was also awarded the Army Combat Badge and the Returned from Active Service Badge.

As both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have indicated, this has been a most difficult time for Australia, with the tragic deaths of four Australian soldiers in two weeks. I make the same point to the parliament that I made last week in Brussels at the meeting of the NATO/ISAF Defence Ministers Meeting: whilst this has been a terrible shock to Australia and Australians, it will not weaken our resolve to see our mission through in Oruzgan province and it does not cast doubt on the real progress we believe we have made in recent times. As the Prime Minister has said, there will be bad days, there will be setbacks and there will be hard times, but we cannot risk the gains that we have fought so hard for and that we very strongly believe we are in the process of consolidating. Our thoughts are with Sapper Robinson, his family, his friends and his mates.