TRANSCRIPT: CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR SERGEANT BLAINE DIDDAMS IN THE HOUSE OF RERESENTATIVES
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
DATE: 14 August 2012
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both in expressing condolence to the family and friends and mates of Sergeant Blaine Diddams and also in expressing support for our mission in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Diddams was killed during an engagement with insurgents in Afghanistan on the second of July this year. His was our first fatality this year, our thirty-third overall in Afghanistan.
And again his death was a terrible blow to an Australian family but also a terrible blow to our nation.
Sergeant Diddams enlisted in the Army in 1990 and joined the Special Air Services Regiment, SAS in 1995.
He was a Patrol Commander in the Special Operations Task Group. And as both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have said he was on his seventh tour to Afghanistan since 2001.
Deputy Speaker, Sergeant Diddams’ death has been deeply felt by the SAS Regiment in Swanbourne.
As Members from Western Australia in particular would know the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the Regiment's local Member, the Member for Pearce - who attended the funeral as the local Member - the SAS is highly regarded in Swanbourne and Western Australia.
The shudder that went through the Swanbourne community and the Perth community is not unexpected given the regard with which the SAS is held.
It was an honour to attend his funeral together with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the National Party representing the Leader of the Opposition and the Member for Pearce.
This is the sixteenth fatality from our Special Operations Task Group – from the SAS, from the commandos at Holsworthy and the incident response regiment.
I had the opportunity on reflecting upon this earlier today with a meeting, an unrelated meeting with General Gilmore the Commander of our Special Operations Task Group.
As the Prime Minister has indicated, our objective in Afghanistan is to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
As the transition process affirmed in Lisbon and Chicago makes clear we will not be in Afghanistan forever but we do want to ensure that the Afghan National Security Forces accept responsibility for security.
Sergeant Diddams, was a devoted family man and a dedicated professional soldier, a dedicated member of the SAS and very, very highly regarded by the SAS family and the broader Army.
Our condolences are with his wife Toni-Ann, his children Elle-Lou and Henry, his parents Peter and Cate, his wider family, his friends and his mates.
Lest we forget.