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Thursday, 19 March 2009
Page: 3290

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

That the House record its deep regret at the death on 16 March 2009 of Corporal Mathew Hopkins, while on combat operations in Afghanistan, place on record its appreciation of his service to the country and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

On behalf of the parliament, the government and the nation, I wish to express our deepest sympathy to Corporal Hopkins’s family and friends. I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to Corporal Hopkins’s wife, Victoria; his little son, Alex; his mother and father, Bronwyn and Ricky; and his younger brother, Corey. I also wish to extend our sympathy to his fellow service men and women. Corporal Hopkins was a father, a husband, a loving son and a dedicated soldier of the Australian Defence Force. A proud Brisbane boy, he was a passionate supporter of the Broncos and the Maroons. He was a valued member of the Darwin based 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

He was known as a friendly and approachable bloke with a genuine caring attitude for his soldiers. He was an experienced soldier and a leader of men. He had served once before in Afghanistan. He had risen to the rank of corporal and was a section commander with combat experience. He always led from the front and has been described by many as a source of inspiration for his personal courage and his mateship. Corporal Hopkins aspired to join the Army from a very young age. He was dedicated to serving and protecting his country. He lived the values of professionalism and camaraderie in the great tradition of the Australian military. His loss will be deeply felt by the Australian Defence Force and our nation.

Recently married to Victoria, Corporal Hopkins was a loving family man who became a proud father to young Alex just weeks ago. The thoughts and prayers of all Australians go out to this young family at this most difficult time. There is no higher calling than to serve our nation in uniform. Corporal Hopkins did this with distinction through his valued work as a member of the first Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force in Afghanistan. He lost his life serving his nation with bravery and honour. He is the ninth Australian to lose his life in Afghanistan. He is the ninth Australian to lose his life helping to secure that country from the grip of terrorism.

We must never forget that the malignant heart of terrorism today is still alive and well in Afghanistan. And we must never forget the direct impact that al-Qaeda and the Taliban have had on our own region and on the lives of our fellow Australians. Since 2000, over 100 Australian citizens have been killed in major terrorist attacks, the perpetrators of which were trained primarily in Afghanistan or in the border region with Pakistan. Within our own region, individuals who have undergone terrorist training in Afghanistan continue to remain at large. We therefore remain committed to taking the fight to the terrorists and helping to secure Afghanistan against violent extremism. In doing so, we know that brave soldiers like Corporal Hopkins will be called upon to defend our country and some will make the ultimate sacrifice. His sacrifice and those who have fallen before him will never be forgotten by the government, the parliament or the nation. On behalf of the Australian government, we offer our prayers and our support to Corporal Hopkins’s family, friends and fellow soldiers.