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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12689

Mr FRYDENBERG (Kooyong) (18:05): I rise to join a chorus of colleagues in paying our deep respects following the death of Corporal Scott James Smith who tragically died in Afghanistan on 21 October 2012. Corporal Smith was only 24 years of age. He was a member of the Special Operations Engineer Regiment based at Holsworthy and he was involved in clearing an area where he was subsequently killed by an improvised explosive device, an IED. He is, tragically, the 39th Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan—more than 240 have been wounded—and he is the 19th fatality from the Special Operations Task Group.

Corporal Smith was a leader among brave men and women. Despite his youthful age he had been in the Army for nearly seven years and during that time he had previously served in Afghanistan as well as in the Solomon Islands. He had received medals of commendation for his service—the Australian Active Service Medal with clasp International Coalition Against Terrorism; the Afghan Campaign Medal; the Australian Service Medal with Clasp Solomon Islands; the Australian Service Medal with Clasp—Counter Terrorism/Special Recovery; the Australian Defence Medal; the NATO International Stabilisation Assistance Force Medal with Multi-Tour Indicator 2; the Army Soldiers Medallion; the Army Combat Badge; and the Returned from Active Service Badge. These were for his participation in Operation ANODE in the Solomon Islands, Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan, Operation NORWICH in Australia and Operation SLIPPER again in Afghanistan. He was clearly a man who was very accomplished and who served his country well.

Special Operations Commander Australia, Major-General 'Gus' Gilmore spoke of Corporal Smith’s lasting legacy. He said:

Scott was universally respected by everyone in the Special Operations Engineer Regiment, and well liked by all who crossed paths with this fine young man … His fellow combat engineers will honour his sacrifice through continuing the tough and dangerous work they undertake in Afghanistan, with courage and distinction.

I have been to Afghanistan where I travelled with colleagues from both sides of this House. We saw firsthand the bravery and the professionalism of more than 1,500 Australian men and women who were acting in Afghanistan to make Australia a safer place.

Our contribution in Afghanistan is part of the war on terrorism. Let us not forget that more than 100 Australians have been killed in terrorist attacks abroad, be it in Bali, be in in 9-11, or other bombings throughout the world. Australians have not been immune from the pain and suffering of victims of terrorism. But by being in Afghanistan as part of a multinational force with more than 40 countries we are doing our part to make the world a safer place. What is more, we are giving opportunity to men, to women and to children who would never have known freedom, or safety, or security as they do today.

There are problems still in Afghanistan—nobody seeks to diminish the size of the task ahead. But with a 300,000-strong Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army, with a girls school that Australian taxpayers have helped fund that we went to visit as it was being built and with other aid programs that we are doing on the ground, we are making a difference in Afghanistan and Corporal Scott James Smith did not give his life in vain.

It is important to understand that Corporal Smith was not just a fine soldier—he was a fine young man, a partner to Liv, a son to Katrina and Murray, and a sister to Roxanne. In a statement from the family of Corporal Scott James Smith, they say:

Scott was a tremendous soldier. It is openly acknowledged that he was well respected within his workplace and by those who knew him.

We knew the Army was Scott's second family, his home away from home. Scott truly believed his actions made a difference; he was a truly dedicated soldier, who also knew how to relax in his time away from work.

…   …   …

Scott attended school in the local area and used his school holidays to learn to barefoot water ski.

…   …   …

Scott loved being outdoors and keeping fit throughout his lifetime and pursued many sports—from long distance running, to cricket and any sort of competition he could be involved in.

Scott had a great sense of humour and was very much into practical jokes.

The statement also said:

Liv, Scott's German princess, met him when she was an exchange student in Australia. After that, the pair could be found in all sorts of mischief together.

That is the human side of this condolence motion. That is the tragedy of the loss of life of Corporal Scott James Smith. When we in this House all go back to our offices and to our families at home, Liv and Katrina and Murray and Roxanne will not have their loved one with them. My heart and my prayers go out to the Smith family. I say to you that your son was braver than us here—he volunteered; he was not conscripted. He volunteered to serve in the Australian Army. He put his life at risk not for one day, not for two days but for weeks, months and in fact years as he served his country. In this place we must always seek to uphold the values that make Australia great, because what Corporal Scott James Smith has done is go abroad and make the ultimate sacrifice to see Afghanistan become a better place and also see Australia be a safer place too.

Our thoughts and our prayers go to the Smith family, and I join with my colleagues on both sides of this House in saying to them that their son, their partner, their brother, Corporal Scott James Smith, was a hero to all. Lest we forget.