Political leaders pay tribute to Australian soldier died in Afghanistan

11:25, August 15, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on Sunday paused their election campaigns to pay tribute to Trooper Jason Brown, who died in Afghanistan on Saturday.

"We have lost a brave soldier, we have lost Trooper Jason Brown, " Gillard told reporters in Wollongbar, New South Wales on Sunday morning, adding that it was "tragic news" for Australia to have lost its 18th soldier in Afghanistan.

"The nation I believe will mourn the loss of Trooper Brown today, but the grief that we feel of course is so much less than the devastation that will be felt by his family and friends as they absorb this news today."

Gillard said the Afghanistan mission was vital and would be pursued.

"Our nation cannot see Afghanistan once again become a safe haven for terrorists ... who are trained to take the lives of Australians," the prime minister told The Australian newspaper.

"We have seen that happen in the past at the World Trade Center and in the Bali bombing."

Meanwhile, Opposition leader Tony Abbott interrupted his election campaign to express his "deep sorrow and regret" over the death of Trooper Brown.

"On behalf of the federal Opposition I wish to convey our deep sorrow and regret over the death in action of Trooper Jason Brown, " Abbott said. "Trooper Brown as I understand has been killed by small arms fire of the enemy while in action in Afghanistan."

Abbott extended his condolences and sympathy to Trooper Brown's family and said the loss of Australian troops in Afghanistan was tragic, but it was very important that Afghanistan never again become a safe haven for terrorism.

"It is important that Australia continue to pull its weight in the world and the Opposition continues to full and strongly support Australia's commitment to Afghanistan."

Abbott said Australia should not pull out of Afghanistan until the mission of achieving a stable government in the country had been achieved.

The Department of Defense in a statement said Trooper Brown was born in Sydney in 1981 and joined the Army in 2000 before being posted to the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. In 2004 he joined the 4th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (Commando) and three years later became a member of the Special Air Service Regiment.

This was his first tour to Afghanistan, although Brown had deployed previously on three occasions to East Timor, Defense said.

The war in Afghanistan has not been a major election issue, Gillard said that was because it was a bipartisan mission with bipartisan support.

Source: Xinhua


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