Saturday, August 21, 2010

Frankie kicked a mine

While we were preparing to vote

"The nation has been informed in the last few minutes by the Acting Chief of the Defence Force that two Australian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, two soldiers have been wounded. The soldiers killed are Tomas Dale and Grant Kirby.

Their families have received the worst news families could get. The shock of it, the violence of it, the loss of it will obviously be bearing very heavily on them today."

Here's a photo of Defence Minister John Faulkner and others at last month's funeral for Private Tim Aplin.

Andrew Norton wrote later:

"All the politicians look affected by the moment, but it was the pain on Faulkner’s face that held my attention. I’d seen it before, as our Afghanistan casualities mount and military funerals become more frequent. Faulkner is feeling heavily the special burden all Defence ministers carry.

So while I was not expecting today’s announcement of Faulkner’s retirement from the ministry I was not surprised. That photo was the first thing I thought of when I heard the news that he was standing down.

But the practice of politicians attending soldiers’ funerals is a good one. While no minister takes the decision to send troops into combat lightly, it is important that they see firsthand the consequences of those decisions. The soldiers do want to go, but wives, kids, parents and friends can pay a terrible price."

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