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Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Page: 8837

Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong) (12:01): I join with colleagues on both sides of this House in this condolence motion to pay tribute to Sergeant Blaine Diddams, otherwise known as 'Dids' to his mates, a soldier's soldier. Forty years of age and born in Canberra in 1971, Sergeant Diddams was killed on 2 July this year, the 33rd Australian soldier to be tragically killed in Afghanistan and the fifth SAS officer to be killed in Afghanistan. He was a 17-year SAS veteran. He joined the Army when he was just 18 years of age. He was on his seventh tour of Afghanistan since 2001. He had been deployed as a regiment patrol commander with a special operations task group in Afghanistan. He was a member of the elite Swanbourne based Special Air Services Regiment.

Sergeant Diddams had previously been deployed to Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. He had been decorated many times, including by US forces in the wake of the fierce Battle of Anaconda in Afghanistan in 2002. I would like to list for the House some of Sergeant Diddams's awards and honours as they pay tribute to his contribution. He was awarded the Australian Active Service Medal with clasp Somalia, clasp East Timor, clasp ICAT; the International Force East Timor Medal; the Afghanistan Campaign Medal; the Australian Service Medal with clasp Solomon Islands, clasp CT/SR; the Defence Long-Service Medal; the Australian Defence Medal; the NATO ISAF Medal; the Meritorious Unit Citation; the Infantry Combat Badge; and the Returned from Active Service Badge. This is a long list of citations, honours and awards that went to Sergeant Diddams for his bravery and for his contribution.

He will be remembered by his wife, Toni-Ann, daughter, Elle-Lou, son, Henry, parents, Peter and Cate, and siblings, Nikki, Sian, Christian and Luke. We cannot give them comfort at this time that we will bring Sergeant Diddams back, but we can tell the family that his life was not lost in vain. I went to Afghanistan last year and met with the Australian men and women who were serving in uniform. Their contribution there is significant. Their contribution is helping make Australia a safer place. Their contribution is helping to bring stability and prosperity to Afghanistan. They are performing an important job in protecting our freedoms.

Finally, I would like to end with the words of Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel J who said of Sergeant Diddams:

… he was humble, loyal to the end and respectful of all who contributed to the delivery of operational capability.

His pursuit of professional excellence, his devotion to his family, his dedication to his mates and to his country will always be remembered by an eternally grateful regiment, defence force and nation.

On behalf of my many colleagues in this House, I say to the family of Sergeant Blaine Diddams that his sacrifice was not in vain. On behalf of a grateful nation, we say thank you. Lest we forget.