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Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Page: 6325

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:00 PM) —I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the deaths on 21 June 2010 of Private Timothy James Aplin, Private Benjamin Adam Chuck and Private Scott Travis  Palmer while on combat operations in Afghanistan, and place on record its appreciation of their service to our country and tender its profound sympathy to their families in their bereavement.

I wish to express heartfelt condolences to Private Aplin’s wife, Natasha; his children, Ty, Shenae, Josie and Daniel; and his mother, Margaret. I also wish to express heartfelt condolences to Private Chuck’s parents, Gordon and Susan; his brother, Jason; his sister, Tiffany; and his partner, Tess. I wish to express heartfelt condolences as well to Private Palmer’s parents, Ray and Pam, and his brother, Adam. I wish to express my deepest sympathy to the extended families and friends of these three brave men.

I also express my sympathy and support to the members of the Special Operations Task Group, who continue to serve our country with distinction in Afghanistan; the men and women of the 2nd Commando Regiment; and the seven commandos who were wounded in the incident that took the lives of their fellow soldiers. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

Private Aplin, Private Chuck and Private Palmer were experienced Special Forces soldiers who had faced the dangers of combat on multiple tours to Afghanistan. For Private Aplin, this was his second tour of Afghanistan; for Private Chuck and for Private Palmer, it was their third. They faced the dangers of combat in Afghanistan with courage, with professionalism and with honour. They were highly trained commandos and valued members of the Sydney based 2nd Commando Regiment.

Private Timothy Aplin was a loving husband and father. He was an outstanding and dedicated commando who was rightly respected and known to always put others first. Private Benjamin Chuck was a courageous and accomplished soldier. According to his mother, Susan, he was focused on what he was doing, even though he knew it was dangerous, and he did it with the utmost pride. Private Scott Palmer excelled at everything he did, and his professionalism was of the highest order. He loved his job and loved working alongside his mates. Australia is proud of these three outstanding commandos. The loss of Private Aplin, Private Chuck and Private Palmer will be felt by their nation, by the Australian Defence Force and, most deeply, by their families and their friends. These three men lost their lives in the service of their nation. The nation will honour their sacrifice and will honour their memory.

Our soldiers in Afghanistan are doing an outstanding job in very difficult circumstances, and they are doing a vital job. Our troops are playing an important role in coalition operations in Afghanistan. Those operations are aimed at providing greater security for the people of Afghanistan by tackling the insurgent threat. Our troops are also working to build the capacity of the Afghan security forces so that responsibility for the security of Oruzgan Province can be transferred to the Afghan authorities. It is in our national interest for this work to be done. It is in our national interest to help Afghanistan become more stable and secure so that it does not again fall into becoming a safe haven for international terrorism. Our troops in the field in Afghanistan are defending our national interest and our national security. Today we honour those who have lost their lives by again restating our commitment to the cause for which they were fighting. On behalf of the Australian government and all members of the House, we offer our prayers and our support for Private Aplin’s, Private Chuck’s and Private Palmer’s families, their friends and their fellow soldiers.

Honourable members—Hear, hear!