Parliamentary Speech: Condolences MRH-90


House of Representatives on Monday 16 October 2023.

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It is a privilege to join with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in honouring the lives and sacrifice of Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class 2 Joseph Phillip Laycock and Corporal Alexander Naggs, who were lost in waters near Lindeman Island on 28 July this year. We honour them today, as our hearts go out to their families and friends, who grieve their much-too-early departure from us; who now feel their daily absence; who miss their warmth, the sound of their voices; who fill the space they have left behind as much loved sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. The grief and loss is a heavy thing to bear for the families and friends of our last serviceman. We honour them, we mourn with them and we offer our deep thanks and gratitude for the sacrifice they have made in defending Australia.

Australia is a vast continent surrounded by oceans, and geography has always been a challenge for the ADF. That's why helicopters have been part of our Defence Force capability since their invention last century. Our uniform men and women use helicopters to protect our forces over land and sea, and it is not without risk. Over the last 30 years we have lost too many people in helicopter crashes. In 1996 in Townsville we lost 18 fine Australians in the Black Hawk crashes. In 2005 in the Nias Island Sea King crash we lost nine fine Australians. In 2006 we lost two fine Australians off waters in Fiji when a Black Hawk crashed off HMAS Kanimbla. In Afghanistan we lost six more fine Australians in helicopter crashes in 2010, 2011 and 2012. And today we remember the four men who perished in July of this year.

Helicopters are essential to our capability, but they are not without risks. Yet our ADF continue to fly them and embrace the challenges of protecting our country. That's what our four servicemen were doing on the night of 20 July—flying a special operations mission profile over water at night, because they knew our country needs men and women who can undertake the toughest missions we ask of them. They were part of the 6th Aviation Regiment, a unit that is directed for special operations tasking—short notice, complex missions in the national interest.

The motto of the Australian Army Aviation Corps is vigilance. That night they were living the motto; they were being vigilant on our behalf. They died serving us. May we, in this House, be vigilant as we care for their loved ones and make good on their sacrifice by ensuring we do our job in protecting this country we all love.