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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Page: 2545

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:02 PM) —I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death on 27 April 2008 of Lance Corporal Jason Marks while on combat operations in Afghanistan and place on record its appreciation of his service to the country and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

I wish to place before the House our sorrow as a parliament, as a government and as a nation at the death of Lance Corporal Jason Marks while on combat operations in Afghanistan. I want to repeat here my expression of deep condolence to his wife, Cassandra, to their two children, Connor and Ella, and to his parents, Paul and Sharon. I also want to tender my sympathy to the extended family and friends of Lance Corporal Marks, including his fellow service men and women. On behalf of the Australian government and all members of the House, I offer our prayers and our support to his family and friends.

Lance Corporal Marks was a loving father and husband. He was also highly respected by his peers and renowned for his dedication and enthusiasm for his job. He led a distinguished career in the Army, rising to the esteemed position of a commando in the 4th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. He deployed to East Timor and Afghanistan on more than one occasion. He received numerous service medals and was awarded a unit citation for gallantry in 2006.

Just before Christmas, I visited Iraq and Afghanistan. I had the great privilege of meeting some of Australia’s service men and women deployed to the region. These men and women display extraordinary strength of character and courage. They are dedicated to serving their country and to lending assistance to those who need it most. The people serving in our defence forces are deployed to provide security, to protect civilians from harm and to contribute to rebuilding countries scarred by war and civil unrest. Our soldiers deployed to Afghanistan are making a significant contribution to the region. They are working with coalition partners and the government of Afghanistan to rebuild the country and provide security for its people. There are hard and difficult times ahead, but we must remain committed to our mission.

On Anzac Day, I spoke of the Australian traditions of courage, of fighting for freedom and of fighting for the common good. This tradition is a part of who we are as a nation, but it comes at a terrible cost—and a personal cost. Lance Corporal Marks made a significant contribution to securing peace and nation building in East Timor and Afghanistan, and he did this in a difficult and dangerous operating environment. Lance Corporal Marks lost his life serving his nation with courage and with honour. His sacrifice will not be forgotten. Just over two weeks ago, on Anzac Day, we paused to remember those who had fought for their country and made the ultimate sacrifice. It is with great sadness that today we pause again as a mark of respect to Lance Corporal Marks and honour his service to the Australian nation.