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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12683

Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (17:39): I rise to add my voice to this motion of condolence on the unfortunate and untimely death of Corporal Scott James Smith. I note that it was at age 24, certainly so young for a life to be taken. I cannot remember what I was doing at age 24 but I certainly was not serving my country in the way that Corporal Scott James Smith did and I think none of us in this place probably were. It is something that I do not think you are prepared for when you go into parliament for the first time and I note some of my colleagues opposite are relatively new, like me, and I do not think they prepare us for the sadness that we feel in having to listen to yet another condolence motion being moved on the death overseas of another one of our finest. But I think I certainly speak for all here when I say that his life and certainly his death would not have been in vain.

As has been mentioned, Corporal Scott James Smith is our 39th Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan. A corporal with the special forces combat engineers, he grew up in the Barossa Valley but was more recently based in Holsworthy. By the age of 24, at his death, he had already been honoured with many awards including 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. It is important that these awards be mentioned because I think it says something of the character of a person that by such a young age they could have amassed so many well deserved honours.

There is really nothing that can speak greater about the life of Corporal Scott James Smith than the statement that was given by his family which I was extremely touched by when I read it. I think it duly honours them to have it read in to the Hansard. His family said:

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 lived life to the fullest. He was born in the Barossa Valley and was water skiing as soon as he could stand—it was one of his great loves.

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

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.

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. He could also be very relaxed when not at work—becoming renowned for his cheeky smile and kind words. But mostly Scott will always be renowned for being the loveable character that held the family together.

Scott had a lot of time for those who had time for him, and his generosity in all things was often spoken about. One of the things you could rely on Scott for was calling whenever he was able and was thinking of you, at midday, midnight, or anywhere in between.

Scott had a larrikin charm that endeared him to all those around him, and these qualities ensure he will always be held in the hearts of those who knew him.

Our family is united in grief as we try to come to terms with our loss.

We thank everyone for their heartfelt wishes and messages of condolences, but ask that our privacy be respected during this difficult time.

I have discussions with people in the community and colleagues here about the mission in Afghanistan and now and then I come across incidents which remind us of why we are there and why and how Australians are making a difference. I think of all the issues that we can single out the treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan by both the community and by the legal system is one that is a stand-out in terms of us making a difference. Also, it highlights the difference that we need to keep making. I would like to quote Cynthia Dill, a human rights lawyer who wrote recently in the Huffington Post an article, 'The Taliban Attack: Why Women's Issues Are A Top Global Concern'. I will quote some of this article, which talks in particular about 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who has been called a 'peace icon' for her tireless activism for the rights of women and girls. It reads:

How far will the Taliban go to silence the voices of women and girls?

How far will its hatred extend to destroy any advances given to women and girls under the banner of freedom and liberty, in the name of basic human rights?

The world learned the answer this week.

And it was appalled by the savagery.

In cold blood, in a planned political assassination, a Taliban extremist shot and wounded a young teenager activist in Pakistan, targeting her for holding Western views.

The young girl, 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who has been called a peace icon for her tireless activism, was brutally attacked during the day while sitting on a school bus. The attacker asked for her by name and then shot her in the head. She was critically injured. I think it is fair to say, as highlighted by the Guardian in an article by Emma Graham-Harrison, that ongoing slaughter is occurring at the behest of Taliban commanders in Afghanistan. The article reads:

The Taliban have killed 17 civilians—reportedly by cutting their throats—in a remote and violent corner of Afghanistan's Helmand province that government officials admit is entirely beyond their control.

The reason for the slaughter was variously given as a fight between two Taliban commanders over women, Taliban anger over a music and dance party, or an insurgent crackdown on suspected government informers

I think it is fair to say that these were the things that Corporal Scott James Smith would have known that he and his unit were fighting for. I think these ideals are ones which he as a soldier, one of the best of the best, would have held very closely to his heart. Although I did not know him, I admire him. I pay my deepest respects to his family on his loss and wish to record my deepest sorrow at the passing of someone who Australians can hold in the highest esteem, whose name will be added to that honour roll at the War Memorial. Lest we forget.