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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 1397

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (10:02): by leave—I want to acknowledge the families of those who have fallen in Afghanistan. As you know, Mr Deputy President, I am based in Townsville, the home of Australia's largest Army base and a significant Air Force base, and many of the troops who have fought in Afghanistan left our shores from Townsville. The Townsville community is part of the military commitment wherever it is and certainly in relation to Afghanistan.

I also want to mention in passing the Avenue of Honour which was established at Yungaburra on the banks of Lake Tinaroo, where 40 trees have been planted as a living memorial to the 40 soldiers who gave their lives in Australia's honour during the Afghanistan conflict. I want to quote from Mr Gordon Chuck, who initiated the Avenue of Honour at Yungaburra. It is a very moving area which was officially opened in June last year in the presence of the then Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, Mr Abbott and General Hurley. Mr Chuck, the father of one of those killed, Private Ben Chuck, and who initiated the memorial, said during the opening:

Although dedicated to the fallen in Afghanistan, I guess it's a representation of the commitment and courage of the Australian digger over generations. It's here to remind people that the freedoms and liberties we seem to hold so dearly, and yet often tend to take for granted, come at a terrible price—we mustn't forget that.

That memorial does, forever, commemorate the lives of soldiers who gave their lives in the defence of our country in the Afghan war.

The Roll of Honour at the opening ceremony was read by General Cantwell, and that in itself is a very difficult thing to do. It was a very moving ceremony and there would not have been a dry eye as General Cantwell read out the names of those who had given their lives in Afghanistan. I simply say to my colleagues that, if you ever have the chance, if you are ever in North Queensland on the Atherton Tableland behind Cairns, one of the things you must see is the Avenue of Honour. It is a magnificent living memorial to the efforts made by our soldiers in Afghanistan.