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Monday, 10 September 2012
Page: 9940

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:15): I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the deaths on 30 August 2012, of Lance Corporal Mervyn John McDonald and Private Nathanael John Aubrey Galagher while on combat operations in Afghanistan, and place on record its appreciation of their service to their country and tender its profound sympathy to their families and friends in their bereavement.

Lance Corporal McDonald was on his 10th deployment abroad, a 30-year-old professional described by his mates as a quick-witted soldier who brought a positive energy to his unit and was always willing to come forward with ideas and solutions. Private Galagher, aged 23, was on his second deployment. He was remembered for his enthusiasm and for always contributing 110 per cent to everything he did. These brief descriptions are precisely how we imagine our soldiers. They are the best of us and just the sort of people we want defending all that is best about our nation. Indeed, these two men were elite commandos who died on duty in the job they chose, serving the nation they loved. Our nation's grief was compounded by their loss coming just hours after their comrades', but the grief felt by their families can barely be imagined.

Few of us can imagine the life of a soldier on active service, willing to face the daily dangers of a soldier's life so that we may live in a better world. Of the 100,000 Australians who have died in military service, so many lost their lives in ways other than direct combat. This, too, is the terrible price of war. Lance Corporal McDonald and Private Galagher were prepared to give their lives, and they did, in the line of duty we ask of them, under our flag and for our interests. Their names will have a proud place on the walls of the Australian War Memorial alongside those of their brothers who have fallen in Afghanistan. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of these two brave Australians and to their fellow service personnel in the Australian Defence Force, particularly the soldiers of the 2nd Commando Regiment in Sydney and the Special Operations Task Group. To Lance Corporal McDonald's mother, Myrna; his stepfather, Bernie; his brothers, Percy, Roger and Gary; and his fiancee, Rachael; and to Private Galagher's partner, Jessie; his parents, Wayne and Sally; and his sister, Elanor: we cannot begin to grasp the depth of the sacrifice that has been asked of you. Our thoughts are with you, each of you, as you weigh the magnitude and the permanence of your loss. As a nation, we mourn 30 August as the worst day of combat losses for the Australian military since Vietnam.