I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in both expressing condolence to the families of Lance Corporal Andrew Jones and Lieutenant Marcus Case and reaffirming our mission and our resolve in Afghanistan.
Following on so quickly from the death of Sergeant Brett Wood, this terrible news has reverberated throughout our country. Lance Corporal Andrew Jones was a young man of 25 years from the 9th Force Support Battalion in Amberley, who had served in the Army for seven years. His first operational deployment was to East Timor in 2008 and his second, to Afghanistan, commenced in November last year. Lance Corporal Jones was a loyal, reliable and trustworthy soldier who was dedicated to serving his country and his people. He is described as a team player who loved doing his job. He had a quiet personality but enjoyed a joke with his mates. He was a skilled cook but was always the first to volunteer for any task. The circumstances of his death have been particularly difficult for his family and for his nation.
Lieutenant Marcus Sean Case was 27 years old, from the Sydney based 6th Aviation Regiment and was deployed to Afghanistan as a Heron unmanned aerial vehicle operator. His first deployment was as an infantryman to Malaysia with Rifle Company Butterworth in 2005. In 2007, he deployed to East Timor with 1st Commando Regiment, and in 2008 he transferred to the Army and became an Army helicopter pilot. In January this year he provided much-needed flood assistance in Queensland. He deployed to Afghanistan in May this year. He was keen and motivated and excelled as a pilot. He was described as the go-to man who was always able to get the job done.
The deaths of Lance Corporal Jones and Lieutenant Case bring to 26 the number of fatalities in Afghanistan since our operation commenced almost a year ago. In these terrible circumstances it is important to reflect upon why we are in Afghanistan and the basis on which we are there. We very strongly continue to believe that it is in our national interest to help stare down international terrorism. Our mission in Afghanistan continues to be authorised by a United Nations mandate which has been in existence for a decade and successively renewed as part of a nearly 50 country international security assistance force in Afghanistan. In the face of this devastating news this week our resolve must continue. This parliament shares the anguish and distress of family, friends and mates. This parliament shares the grief and pain of our men and women in uniform. We express our condolences to the families with our age-old refrain: Lest we forget.