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Transcript of remarks to troops, Tarin Kot, Afghanistan

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28 October 2013




Colonel, soldiers, civilians who are supporting our effort here in Uruzgan, Australians, Americans, friends and allies, it is a tremendous honour for me to be here along with the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Defence to salute you and to thank you for the extraordinary work you and your colleagues have done over close to a decade here in this country.

This is my fourth trip to Tarin Kot. I came here three times as Opposition Leader. I’m delighted to be here now as Prime Minister and it seemed to me that it would be wrong to go too far into a Prime Ministership and not pay my respects to the men and women in uniform and out of uniform who have done so much for our country, have done so much for the people of Afghanistan and so much for the wider world.

I want to make just three simple points. First point, you have done good work here in Uruzgan. As the Interior Minister and the Governor pointed out, there is education, there is health; and it’s not just education and health for some people, as far as it can be in a rugged and difficult country, it’s education and health for everyone including the women of Uruzgan province.

So you have done good work. You have done your work remarkably well with an extraordinary degree of professionalism and whether it’s the different elements of the army, whether it’s the police, the civilians, ASIS, all of the various Australian units that have come together to make this work, you have done it with extraordinary professionalism.

We heard the Minister for the Interior say before the representatives of America, Holland, Britain, Singapore and others, that we were the best. That was a big call! Those of you who have worked with our American and British colleagues know that they are very good. Those of you who worked with the Dutch know that they did incredibly good work and whenever I ask about the Singaporean forces training in Australia, I am told we don’t want to get them unhappy because they pack a punch. So it’s great to know that the work that we have done here is respected and admired by our peers right around the world.

Finally, I want to say that it has been worth it. This has been a very difficult commitment. People have paid a high price. We’ve lost 40 of our best. We mourn them. We remember them. We honour them. We want to


work with their families. We will never forget them. Some 260 have been wounded, many, very seriously. Then there are all of those who will carry mental and physical scars with them for the rest of their lives.

Still, to be able to help our allies, to defend our interests and uphold our values is just about the best thing that any Australian can do and as I look around at all of you in uniform and out of uniform I am tremendously honoured to be in your presence. I am in awe of your professionalism. I respect what you have done and along with every other Australian, I honour you. I honour you and I pay tribute to you and I am confident that you will never be forgotten here in this part of Uruzgan.

I would now ask the Leader of the Opposition to join me in these remarks.