Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith received his Victoria Cross for:
… the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as Patrol Second-in-Command, Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.
In an early morning raid on a Taliban stronghold near the village of Tizak in Afghanistan, Corporal Roberts-Smith and two other special forces soldiers were lying in a horribly exposed position just 20 metres in front of an insurgent machine-gun post. According to one report, he was part of a force of 25 up against 100 Taliban. From the cover of a small pile of rubble, Corporal Roberts-Smith saw gunfire tearing up the ground around his friends and realised that they would soon be killed. He stormed the machine gun, drawing fire away from his comrades, silencing it at point blank range. He then moved on to silence another machine gun and then moved on in company to silence a third.
That greatly loved poet who captured so much of that which is unique about our great country, Dorothea Mackellar, summed up Australia’s capacity to deliver brutal weather events in her moving tribute My Country, penned some 100 years ago. In that renowned poem she talked of Australia’s ‘droughts and flooding rains’. She spoke about our country’s terror, of ‘flood and fire and famine’. That word picture of our country by Dorothea Mackellar 100 years ago has rung especially true this summer for many Australians. While she may not have specifically mentioned cyclones, I am sure that those who were confronted by Cyclone Yasi will say it was appropriately covered by the descriptor ‘terror’ in the second verse.
Last Wednesday at about 9.30 am, Australia lost one of its finest in the cause of freedom. Another one of our finest was seriously injured in the incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with him for a full and speedy recovery.
Corporal Richard Atkinson’s life was cruelly cut short, but his memory will live on not only in the hearts of his family but also in the heart of a thankful nation. Anyone who saw the pictures last week of 22-year-old Tasmanian Corporal Richard Atkinson and his fiancée, Dannielle, could not help but have been affected by the pathos of a young life so abruptly ended, and with it many dreams and aspirations. Corporal Atkinson leaves behind his fiancée, Dannielle, to whom he was engaged only one month before his deployment and with whom he had planned a trip to Italy. He also leaves behind his parents, Ross and Kate; brother, James; and sister-in-law, Sumah, who are all, deservedly, so very proud of him.
Speech - Thomson Reuters Workplace Conference
22nd November 2010
I thank Peter Schwab at Thomson Reuters for this opportunity.
The topic of my address was billed as 'The Oppositions Approach to Industrial Relations'. I have decided to make a very slight change to this topic. As well as our 'approach to' industrial relations, I will also talk about the Opposition's predictions' for the future.
There is something deceitful and repugnant about an organisation which:
- Claims to be independent and non-partisan, but is actively partisan.
- Which campaigns on particular popular issues but is really only interested in funnelling votes to the Greens and Labor
- Which at each election pretends to independently assess the policies of the various political parties when the result is a foregone conclusion
- Which pretends to educate young people about policy issues but takes advantage of their political inexperience
- And which preaches openness but is secretive about its own financial affairs.
The coalition joins in the condolence motion that honours the life of the Hon Kenneth Shaw Wriedt, and especially his public life as a servant of the people of Tasmania and the Australian Labor Party. Ken Wriedt was a man not only of substantial physical stature but also of substantial political stature. It goes without saying that we on this side did not embrace his politics, but we do acknowledge his service and salute it. He was a passionate Tasmanian. He loved his adopted state and had no difficulty in switching to state politics in the service of the Tasmanian people and his party when he thought it was needed.
Mr Acting Deputy President:
It’s not the time to get the wobbles, it’s not the time to lose faith, it’s not the time to forsake the loss and the sacrifice and expense and the heartache that’s gone into [Afghanistan].
The coalition, in joining this debate to take note of the Prime Minister’s statement on Afghanistan, say ‘Amen’ to those wise and succinct sentiments uttered by Major General Cantwell in recent days. Let us be clear: the commitment to armed conflict is one of the most soul wrenching or soul searching decisions any Prime Minister or government could ever make. Those that have gone before us, and those that follow us, have made and will need to make these chilling calls—calls which all of us so passionately wish had not been part of our history or indeed part of our future, let alone the present. Nevertheless, we recognise the need to make such calls—calls which are made without perfect and full knowledge of all the situations and likelihoods, calls which need to be made without knowing the full consequences of inaction or action. They are, in brief, the matters which leadership requires to sift, to distil and to analyse before our bravest and best are requested to engage in theatres where they know they will be called upon to make a commitment which might require the ultimate sacrifice.
We have a hung Parliament - creating in its wake circumstances the likes of which we have not seen since the 1940’s.
Our Parliament is now formed with a minority Labor Government, who in the House of Representatives hold 72 seats in their own right.