Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of address at Holsworthy Barracks, Sydney.

Download PDFDownload PDF


20 May 2003



I am delighted to be able to be here today and to say in a very heartfelt way how delighted I am that all of you are back, the corporal X's broken leg notwithstanding, all of you are back safe and sound. And as a person who, more than anybody else in Australia, of course, accepts responsibility for the decision to deploy you, may I say that you represented your country and you discharged the mission on which you were sent in the best traditions of the Australian military forces.

You were sent by a just cause to liberate an oppressed people and you carried that out quite magnificently and you carried it out in a way that has brought enormous credit and added lustre to the reputation of the fighting men and women of this country. The model of Australian serviceman or woman is not only a warfighter, he or she is also a peacemaker and a conciliator. And also in a very diverse way, a representative of the country in whose name he or she goes overseas.

We share very much with your families a sense of relief, a sense of gratitude and an enormous sense of satisfaction that you are back amongst us. You were back in pretty short order. I know some of you may feel responsible for finding those 50 or more Mig fighters at [inaudible] airport, some of you may feel you're entitled to a spotter's fee, perhaps if you see a very very large thing on the back of a trailer outsidearound Holsworthy, you might think the spotter's fee has in fact been claimed. But it was a remarkable operation, it was quick, it was efficient.

Can I say it impressed the allies of Australia, I earned nothing but unstinting praise from allied leaders and allied service personnel on my recent visit overseas that which undoubtedly, the highlight was to visit many of you in Qatar to personally thank you of where you had been deployed. Deploying you early minimised the risk of casualties, deploying you early allowed you the opportunity to be ready, so that when the final decision was taken to commit Australian forces to combat, you were not only ready, but you had been prepared in ways that minimised the likelihood of you falling into harm's way.


Can I say on behalf of a grateful and proud nation, you were magnificent, you upheld the best traditions of the Australian military forces. You deserve the leave that is ahead of you. I hope you enjoy the times with your families and we are all eternally grateful that you're all back in one piece and to share your lives in the future with your loved ones, thank you.