TRANSCRIPT: CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR LANCE CORPORAL STJEPAN MILOSEVIC, SAPPER JAMES MARTIN AND PRIVATE ROBERT POATE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
DATE: 10 SEPTEMBER 2012
I rise to associate myself with the remarks of the Acting Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, both in expressing condolences to the families, friends and mates of Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic—or Rick Milosevic, as he was known to his family—Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate, and also in expressing our continuing support for our mission in Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Milosevic, Sapper Martin and Private Poate were murdered in an insider attack in Uruzgan province on the night of 29 August this year, the early hours of 30 August in Australia.
There is no higher sacrifice in conflict or in war and there is nothing more terrible than when it occurs as a result of the actions of a person who comes from the country and the Army whom one is trying to assist. Australia has now seen four terrible insider incidents. They have seen the deaths of seven Australian soldiers and 12 Australian soldiers wounded. We have now seen 38 fatalities during our time in Afghanistan and some 240 wounded.
Lance Corporal Rick Milosevic enlisted in the Army in 2008 and was posted as a Cavalryman to the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, Queensland Mounted Infantry, in Brisbane in 2009 on completion of his basic training. He was much liked and respected by members of the Regiment. His leadership and professional abilities stood out on exercises and on operations and also, his mates say, on the rugby field. He deployed to Iraq in 2010 and Afghanistan in 2012. He was regarded by his mates as a leader and a devoted family man.
Sapper James Martin was a Perth boy, and I know as the local Federal Member for Perth that in his youth he played underage cricket with the Maylands Junior Cricket Club and AFL football with the Bayswater Bears football club, both in my electorate. He reminded me of this when the Prime Minister and I farewelled 3RAR Task Group from Townsville prior to his deployment. His mother and his grandparents live in the electorate of Perth. Young James enlisted in the Army in 2011, and following recruit and combat engineer training was posted to the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment in Brisbane. He was described by his mates as an intellectual, a quick learner. He was well respected as a loyal friend and a good comrade. He was on his first operational deployment.
Private Robert Poate enlisted in the Army in 2009 and on completion of his basic and initial training was posted as a Rifleman to 6 Battalion, RAR. Private Poate was described by his mates and superiors as having outstanding leadership potential. He was described by his mates as both a professional soldier and a larrikin. He was also on his first operational deployment. He was proud of his family, proud of his military service and proud of his Canberra origins.
The loss in such terrible circumstances of Lance Corporal Milosevic, Sapper Martin and Private Poate will lead many to question, quite rightly, our commitment in Afghanistan. But at such a terrible time for the nation and for those families we must continue to be clear sighted. Our objective is to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists. We will not be in Afghanistan forever. Transition to Afghan led security responsibility in Uruzgan commenced in July and is on track. Our thoughts and our condolences are with the families, friends and mates of Lance Corporal Milosevic, Sapper Martin and Private Poate.
Lest we forget.