House debates

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


SAS Signaller Sean McCarthy

2:04 pm

Photo of Kevin RuddKevin Rudd (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the House record its deep regret at the death on 8 July 2008, of SAS Signaller Sean McCarthy, killed while on combat duty in Afghanistan, and place on record its appreciation of his service to his country, and tender its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement

On behalf of the government, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to Signaller McCarthy’s mother and father, Mary and David, and to his sisters, Leigh and Clare. I also want to express my sympathy to his extended family and friends, including his fellow service men and women with the Australian Defence Force. On 18 July, together with the Leader of the Opposition, I attended Signaller McCarthy’s funeral at the Gold Coast’s Sacred Heart Church. It was moving to see so many friends and family gather to pay their respects to such a dedicated soldier.

There is no higher calling in Australia than to serve our nation in uniform. The men and women of the Australian Defence Force are the pride of the nation and the pride of the Australian people. I have had the privilege of meeting many of them, both in Australia and as they serve overseas, and I am always impressed by their bravery and their professionalism. Signaller McCarthy was a truly patriotic Australian, an outstanding soldier and a valued member of his regiment. He was known for his keen sense of humour and for his great work ethic. He displayed strength, determination and courage while serving in the challenging environments of East Timor and Afghanistan.

Together with his fellow service men and women, Signaller McCarthy worked with the people of East Timor and the people of Afghanistan to assist them in their efforts to achieve stability and peace. Signaller McCarthy lost his life serving his country and is owed a special debt of gratitude that can never fully be repaid. His sacrifice will not be forgotten. On behalf of the Australian government and on behalf of the Australian parliament, we offer our prayers and our support and our thoughts to Signaller McCarthy’s family and to his friends.

2:06 pm

Photo of Brendan NelsonBrendan Nelson (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I join the Prime Minister in this condolence motion for Signaller Sean McCarthy. Signaller Sean McCarthy gave his life on 8 July this year. He did so as a volunteer member of the Australian Army. He was in Uruzgan, Afghanistan in our name, he was wearing our uniform and he was under our flag. He, along with other members of the Australian Defence Force, was engaged in a struggle against resurgent totalitarianism, predominantly in the form of Islamic extremism, and in particular in the military engagement of the Taliban in Afghanistan. This country has always been the crossroads to Asia. It is now in every sense of the word the crossroads to the modern world. Signaller Sean McCarthy gave his life to ensure that the Afghan people have the hope of enjoying the same freedoms that we too often take for granted in our own country: freedom of religious expression, political freedom, the liberating power of education and the equal treatment of men and women.

Sean McCarthy joined the Australian Defence Force in July 2001 and, finally, the Special Air Service Regiment in January 2007. He served in the fifth rotation of the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan in 2007, for which he received a citation for gallantry, and also in East Timor in Operation Astute in 2008. At his memorial service he was described by one of his fellow soldiers as ‘a courageous soldier and all round good bloke’. I could not help but note that he had planned his funeral very carefully. He had chosen the men who were to carry his casket, the music and who was to speak at the service. It says something about our country and these men and women who join the Australian Defence Force that that is, in a very real sense, what they have to think about at a very young age—in his case the age of 25. Signaller Sean McCarthy was described by his commanding officer at the service as:

... a highly respected soldier who served with distinction in the Australian Army and with great pride as a member of an elite team, the Special Air Service Regiment. He died doing his duty in a high-risk environment; it was a soldier’s death. His loss, whilst tragic, was not in vain. He fought and died for the enduring values of freedom and justice.

His father, David, said of his son:

He was lucky enough to find a career that he loved and was very passionate about. I know he’s my son, but those guys are doing some things over there which make them real heroes.

He, along with Andrew Russell, Luke Worsley, Matthew Locke, Trooper David ‘Poppy’ Pearce and Jason Marks, has given his life in the cause of freedom, not only for Afghans but also for us and the kind of world we will leave our children. His father, David, said to me after the service: ‘If he was going to die, that’s how he wanted to die. He would have been very angry if he had come back to Australia and been run over by a bus.’ To his father, David, his mother, Mary, and his sisters, Clare and Leigh, we thank you for his life and his service to our country. Our condolences go to you and your family and especially to the men and women of the Australian defence forces.

Photo of Harry JenkinsHarry Jenkins (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

As a mark of respect, I invite honourable members to rise in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

I thank the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Albanese) adjourned.