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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 3240


Senator JOHNSTON (3:40 PM) —The opposition joins with the Minister for Defence in expressing our deep sadness and sorrow over the deaths last week of Sappers Darren Smith and Jacob Moerland while on active service in Afghanistan. All Australians share the grief of their families and loved ones and our hearts go out to them. Australians have been deeply moved by the ceremonies at Tarin Kowt base, where Darren Smith and Jacob Moerland, known to their mates as Smithy and Snowy, began their journey home, and when they returned to Australian soil at RAAF Amberley.

There is no greater sacrifice an Australian can make than to give his life in the service of his country. On behalf of all coalition members, I express my deep condolence to the parents of Sapper Smith and Sapper Moerland, to Darren Smith’s widow, Angela, and young son, Mason, and to Jacob Moerland’s fiance, Kezia. My parliamentary colleagues the shadow minister for defence, science and personnel, the Hon. Bob Baldwin, and the shadow parliamentary secretary for defence, Stuart Robert, a former member of the Australian Defence Force, both recently visited Afghanistan, where they had the opportunity to meet our troops and to thank them personally on behalf of the opposition and of all Australians for the fine work they are doing in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances.

Our troops in Afghanistan are making a difference to the lives of all Afghans through their efforts to build the necessary infrastructure and public facilities that are absolutely vital and necessary for the sustainment of good governance. My two parliamentary colleagues also had the privilege of meeting many of the very great and proud combat engineers on the ground in Afghanistan, including, may I say, Sapper Smith. They can attest that Darren Smith and Jacob Moerland were fine professionals, like all their colleagues, who loved the job they were doing. Both exemplified the ANZAC qualities of perseverance, mateship and, may I say, steely and professional courage. They also clearly understood the contribution the Australian Defence Force is making to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorists, a task both vital for the security of their fellow Australians and more generally for making the world a much safer and better place.

I hope that this knowledge of the contribution of Darren Smith and Jacob Moerland will in time be of some consolation to their loved ones. Their deaths take the toll of Australians killed in Afghanistan since 2002 to 13. Their deaths remind us all of the enormous dangers of the mission they are undertaking and of the great bravery, courage and dedication of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force. Again, I extend heartfelt condolences and sympathy at this very difficult time to the families and loved ones of Sapper Smith and Sapper Moerland.