Minister for Defence - Transcript - Remarks at the Investiture ceremony for Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird VC, MG, Government House, Canberra

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Senator the Hon David Johnston

Minister for Defence

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18 February 2014

Governor General, Your Excellency Quentin Bryce, Mr Bryce, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, fellow members, senators, and acknowledged distinguished guests.

Justice Stephen Gageler, representing the Chief Justice, Chief of the Defence Force, service chiefs, I pause to acknowledge the Afghanistan Defence Minister who is with us today, His Excellency General Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, and the Afghanistan Ambassador His Excellency Ambassador Andisha.

With us also today, the parents of the man who has made the ultimate sacrifice. Doug, Kaye, Brendan, I want to acknowledge your loss by simply saying that Cameron joined the Royal Australian Army in January 2000. He was assigned to the Commandos in February of that very year – he was a natural. He went straight into the Commando regiment.

I also will acknowledge current and past Victoria Cross holders who are here today. Lady Joan and Mark Cutler, Keith Payne VC, OAM and his wife Florence, Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG and his wife Emma, Corporal Mark Donaldson VC, Corporal Daniel Keighran VC and his wife Kathryn, and all of the Cross of Valour holders that are here on this very special occasion.

As I have said Cameron was a natural. I must also acknowledge as honoured guests here today, the members of Cameron’s Special Forces team, and others members of his company, his former Commanding Officer, the Regimental Sergeant Major, and of course the regiment’s current Commanding Officer, the Regimental Sergeant Major.

It must be recalled that the number of casualties incurred by 2 Commando during the Afghan campaign was the highest of any Australian unit serving in that country. It is testimony to the gruelling operational tempo of this distinguished unit.

Cameron was, in short, an outstanding leader of his men, as we have heard in detail today. He was the essence and epitome of an Australian soldier - the courage and bravery that this title carries. He was the essence and epitome of an Australian Commando – with all the proficiency and technical skill that that title carries.

But above all he was a great Australian warrior.

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