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Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Page: 4555

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 both in expressing condolence for Sergeant Brett Wood and in reaffirming our support for our effort and mission in Afghanistan. This is another tragic blow to the Australian Defence Force, to the Australian Army and to our special forces community. It is also a tragedy for another Australian family, and I express my sincere condolences to Sergeant Wood's wife, Elvi, and his family.

For a man of 32 years of age, Sergeant Wood was a man with significant operational experience and a highly decorated soldier. In many ways his personal experiences reflect the Australian international security experience over the last decade. He was first deployed overseas, to Bougainville, in 2000; he was first deployed to East Timor in 2001 and in 2003 to Iraq. In 2006 he was deployed to Afghanistan for the first time and was awarded the Medal of Gallantry for his bravery and leadership in action. He returned to Afghanistan for a second time in 2009 and, in March this year, was deployed to Afghanistan for the third occasion. Every time his country asked, he responded.

As members know, Sergeant Wood is our 24th fatality in action in Afghanistan. For 23 other Australian families this will be a terrible reminder of their own personal loss, their personal and family sacrifice. In addition to the death of Sergeant Wood, two other Australian soldiers were wounded in the fatal improvised explosive device blast. In a separate engagement with insurgents, three other soldiers suffered gunshot and fragmentation wounds. I am pleased to advise the House that the condition of all five wounded soldiers is now listed as satisfactory and stable, and our thoughts and wishes also go to them and their families at this time.

Sergeant Wood has our deepest respect and our deepest gratitude. Working with our partners in an international security assistance force under a United Nations mandate, he was killed in action serving his country, helping to stare down international terrorism. Our thoughts are with his wife, his family, his mates and his friends.