Senate debates

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Signaller Sean Patrick McCarthy

3:46 pm

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move:

That the Senate records its deep regret at the death of Signaller Sean Patrick McCarthy on 8 July 2008 while on combat operations in Afghanistan and places on record its appreciation of his service to his country and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in their bereavement.

On behalf of all government senators, and I am sure on behalf of all senators, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to Signaller McCarthy’s mother and father, Mary and David, and to his sisters, Leigh and Clare, and to express our sympathy to his whole extended family and friends including, of course, his fellow service men and women.

Signaller McCarthy was a patriotic Australian, an outstanding soldier and a valued member of the Special Air Service Regiment and the Royal Australian Corps of Signals. The Special Air Service Regiment, as we all know, has a long tradition of exceptional service to the defence of Australia, and Signaller McCarthy was the embodiment of the courage, professionalism and endurance that are hallmarks of this elite unit. He displayed great strength, determination and courage while serving in the challenging environments of East Timor and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately Signaller McCarthy lost his life serving his country and is owed a special debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid. Members of parliament, and I think members of both the previous government and this government, understand the huge responsibility of asking our service personnel to serve their country in war zones, and we all feel very deeply the cost that our service men and women sometimes pay in carrying out those duties. I think it always a useful reminder to us all of the responsibilities we have in terms of trying to ensure that they are not put in harms way but that when they are we provide them with the best support we can.

Signaller McCarthy served his country admirably in a number of zones. His work with his comrades in spreading security in Oruzgan province is noble and enduring. Through his work the Taliban were weakened, the reach of the Afghan government was extended and the environment in which our troops undertake vital reconstruction work was made secure. His comrades continue that vital work. They continue to honour his memory and to honour his commitment to the task.

Signaller McCarthy’s sacrifice will not be forgotten. On behalf of the Australian government, we offer our prayers and our support to Signaller McCarthy’s family and friends and thank them for his sacrifice and service to his nation.

3:49 pm

Photo of Nick MinchinNick Minchin (SA, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise on behalf of the coalition to strongly support the motion moved by Senator Evans, and I endorse all the remarks made by Senator Evans in support of this very important motion. It is critical that the Senate does unanimously express its deep regret and profound sorrow at the death of Signaller Sean McCarthy on 8 July. He was someone who was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, and of course all our best wishes and thoughts are with his family and friends.

It does remind us of the extreme danger which Australian personnel face in Afghanistan, but it is also a reminder of the importance of that struggle, and I think his family and friends should take comfort from the fact that there is in this country bipartisan support for our engagement in Afghanistan and that Sean McCarthy died for a noble cause—the cause of containing terrorism and of trying to bring peace and stability to the nation of Afghanistan to enable the people of Afghanistan to live in peace and security. It is an important cause, and we should all renew our commitment to that cause. It is with profound regret and sadness that we record our sorrow at the death of Sean McCarthy.

3:51 pm

Photo of Bob BrownBob Brown (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Australian Greens I support this motion of condolence and send our commiseration, our great respect and our concern for and comfort to the family, the friends and the fellow unit members of Signaller Sean McCarthy. We all have to aspire to a future when the world will be rid of violence, war and destruction. It is no way for human affairs to be handled. But, in the meantime, it is still part of the way in which the world does malfunction.

On behalf of this nation, Signaller Sean McCarthy was in Afghanistan and died in Afghanistan. His body has now been brought home to this nation, which he served bravely and courageously. He was honoured by Australia’s Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, with the words:

On his previous tour in Afghanistan he was recognised by the Special Operations Commander for his courage and mission focus, including a specific commendation for maintaining his presence of mind and excellent soldier skills while in contact with the enemy.

Signaller McCarthy was a sterling and honourable Australian and we regret his loss.

Question agreed to, honourable senators standing in their places.