Condolences - Corporal Richard Atkinson
Senator the Hon John Faulkner
8 February 2011
Senator FAULKNER (New South Wales) (1:22 PM) - I too support this condolence motion on the death of Corporal Richard Atkinson. Corporal Atkinson was from the Darwin based 1st Combat Engineer Regiment and was on his first deployment to Afghanistan. His death is the 22nd operational death in Afghanistan. Corporal Atkinson was participating in a dismounted security patrol in the Deh Rawood Valley in Oruzgan Province. His patrol was a partnered patrol with the Afghan National Army. Corporal Atkinson was killed and another Australian soldier seriously wounded when struck by an improvised explosive device. I have described to the Senate before what a deadly, brutal and indiscriminate weapon the IED is. I think Corporal Atkinson’s death again reminds us of that terrible truth.
We have heard that Corporal Atkinson was a dedicated and professional soldier. We have heard how much his mates depended on him and how much they will miss him. This is a time when all of us who serve in this parliament think of those who serve in Australia’s defence forces, of those who spend their lives in the nation’s service, of those who serve in Afghanistan, of those who have been wounded in that service and of those like Corporal Atkinson who have given their lives. I am only too painfully aware that perhaps no words of condolence in the parliament can ease the pain of Corporal Atkinson’s family and friends. I can only say to them all—to Corporal Atkinson’s family, his fiancée, his parents, his brother and other family members, his friends and his mates, particularly those in the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment—that Australia proudly and profoundly honours his service and sacrifice. I join with other senators in offering my deepest sympathy to Corporal Atkinson’s family and friends.