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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 1

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:01 PM) —I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death on 4 January 2009, of Private Gregory Sher, killed while on combat operations in Afghanistan, and place on record its appreciation of his service to his country, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

On behalf of the government I wish to express heartfelt condolences to Private Sher’s mother and father, Yvonne and Felix, to his partner, Karen, and to his two brothers, Steven and Barry. I would also like to extend those condolences to other family members and friends who are with us today: his grandmother Sylvia, his cousins Darren and Anthony, his best mate, Brett, and his brother Steven’s fiancee, Ronit. The nation is grateful for the service of this proud soldier. I wish also to express sympathy to Private Sher’s extended family and friends, including his fellow service men and women of the Australian Defence Force.

On 11 January, along with the Leader of the Opposition, I attended Private Sher’s funeral at Melbourne’s Chevra Kadisha cemetery. To see so many friends and family gather to pay their respects was very moving, and it was a testament to the love and respect so many had for this fine young Australian. Private Sher was known both as a loyal and loving family man and as a dedicated soldier. His courage, commitment and professionalism were a credit to his family and to his unit. As a proud member of that elite group, the commandos, he upheld the greatest traditions of the Australian military. There is no higher calling for an Australian than to serve our nation in the uniform of Australia. Private Sher did this with distinction in both East Timor and Afghanistan. Private Sher lost his life while serving his nation with courage and with honour. He is the eighth Australian soldier to lose his life in Afghanistan. His sacrifice and the sacrifice of those who have fallen before him will never be forgotten by this grateful nation. On behalf of the Australian government and all members of the House, we offer our prayers and our support to Private Sher’s family, to his friends and to his fellow soldiers.