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Speech at welcoming home ceremony in Townsville.



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Mark Latham Leader of the Opposition

Welcoming Home Ceremony in Townsville

Mark Latham - Federal Labor Leader

Speech

Transcript - Townsville - 2 August 2004

To Brigadier Morrison and other distinguished military officers, to the Prime Minister, parliamentary colleagues, to the two Mayors and the families and the citizens of Townsville, I join the Prime Minister most warmly in this welcome home.

It is a privilege to pay tribute to the success of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands and, indeed, all the Townsville ADF units that have served overseas in the name of Australia.

We issue a special welcome home to those so recently returned from the Solomons and we do so on behalf of all your fellow Australians. We include in our tribute all those who joined in your mission, the police from Australia and the units from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Tonga.

But perhaps the best tribute of all has come from the people of the Solomon Islands themselves.

As their own first anniversary celebrations have shown, they know that your skill and dedication has brought back security and stability to their homeland. You have given them a new chance to live free from violence and intimidation. You have given them a new hope for a better and safer future for their families and their communities.

You have also given our part of the world the inspiration of a successful mission, proving that our security as a nation relies on the security of our neighbours. In the years ahead, it will serve as a model. I’m very confident it will serve as a model, a

prototype, for this kind of operation.

Let me say that the Australian Labor Party firmly supported your mission from the time it was requested by the Solomon Islands. We saw it as an essential part of the security of the South Pacific and for the security of Australia itself.

But I must emphasise that the support we give, and the honour we pay to the men and women of the Australian Defence Forces, does not depend on political agreement with any particular operation. Our honour and support for the men and women of the Australian Defence Force, in the service of Australia’s democracy and security, is always unconditional.

The party of John Curtin can take no other stand. That’s why today we honour the service of all the Townsville ADF units over the past 12 months in East Timor, the Middle East and Iraq.

There is no higher calling than serving our country, serving our community, serving our fellow citizens, especially from this wonderful garrison city of Townsville. That’s why so many of your family, your friends and your fellow citizens have turned out today to honour you, to support you, to thank you.

We are proud to salute you at this welcome home for your contribution to the great ANZAC tradition and in the service of the security of our great nation. Many thanks.

Ends