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Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Page: 6804

Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (18:56): I rise to speak to the condolence motion for Lance Corporal Andrew Gordon Jones and Lieutenant Marcus Sean Case. In paying my respects following their deaths, I acknowledge that their loss is supreme. The loss of any soldier is a tragedy, and to have lost two on a single day makes it all the more difficult. I offer my condolences to the families and friends of Lance Corporal Jones and Lieutenant Case.

Lance Corporal Jones shares my son's name. His middle name, Gordon, was probably the name I wanted for my son's first name anyway. We are of course not related, but the name Jones is popular; Smith is common. Lance Corporal Jones was described by his family and those in the Defence Force as 'dependable, loyal, with a sense of humour that all who knew him enjoyed'. He took his role as a cook very seriously. He even used family recipes in his quest to provide only the best for his mates. He spent time in Townsville at the mighty 1RAR, and his time there makes his passing all the more personal for me and those in my electorate.

Lieutenant Marcus Case was a motivated and talented 27-year-old pilot, known for his ability on the rugby field and especially for his love of flying. Those who worked with him spoke admirably of his ambition as an Army pilot, having embraced his new challenge of operating a remotely piloted aircraft with the RAAF. The men and women of the 5th Aviation Regiment, C Squadron, in Townsville have spoken to me about the dangers our Army pilots face and the skills they display in Afghanistan. Lieutenant Case's training was not in vain.

Both soldiers were widely respected by their superiors and their peers, and they will be missed by their close family and friends. To lose a member of our Defence Force in the circumstances in which we lost Lance Corporal Jones is a travesty and an act of cowardice in the extreme. But we must not forget the important work that was being done by Lance Corporal Jones and others in the Mentoring Task Force in training Afghan soldiers. This role is crucial in creating an Afghanistan that is free of terrorism and for ensuring that Afghanistan does not again become the threat that it is today.

Further, I would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm my support for our role in Afghanistan. Fighting terrorism at its source remains a vital mission in being a responsible player in the international community and, as we continue to make progress, the bravery of our fallen soldiers will not have been in vain. In offering my support to the troops in Afghanistan, I would like to make a special mention of the soldiers deployed there from Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. I recently had the honour of attending the farewell parade for 2RAR as they prepared for their deployment throughout Afghanistan to undertake their role in training Afghan soldiers and nationals in order to make that country a better place. I know that they have the support of the Townsville community and all Australians. When I say that we are behind our troops, the role that they are playing in helping Afghanistan towards being a better democratic country that values all its citizens equally, regardless of sex, religion or ethnicity, cannot be underestimated. To the family and friends of these brave soldiers: this tragic loss will not be forgotten and it will not be in vain as we continue in our fight against the threat of terrorism. It is cold comfort to any parent that they died bravely. No parent should ever have to bury a child. My heart and the hearts of all the ADF men and women, veterans and the people of Townsville extend to the families of Lance Corporal Jones and Lieutenant Case our deepest and most sincere sympathies. May they rest in peace. Lest we forget.