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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 1779 ..

Tuesday, 18 June 1996


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Training): Mr Speaker, I move:

That this house expresses its profound sympathy for the families of those service personnel killed in the Black Hawk helicopter tragedy in Queensland last week.

Mr Speaker, I and, I am sure, all members of this house were greatly saddened and, indeed, shocked at the tragic news that 15 members of the Special Air Service Regiment and three members of the Army Aviation Corps were killed in a helicopter disaster on training exercises at night in Queensland last week. I think we could all agree with our Governor-General, Sir William Deane, when he said at a memorial service:

It was with shock and sadness that I heard of the tragic accident at Townsville which caused such dreadful loss of life and injuries. My heart goes out to the bereaved families, to the friends and comrades of those who died, and to the injured. I pray for them, with you all, in their grief and distress.

In fact, Sir William was reading a letter from the Queen.

The Army, especially the SAS, is a very close-knit community. Whilst people accept risks involved in training - and these people are constantly training for war and training to protect the Australian community - and accept the occasional accident, an accident of this magnitude nevertheless sent shock waves through the nation and shock waves and grief through that very close-knit community, especially the families of those 15 SAS members from Perth who were killed. The SAS is a very close-knit community. The families see a lot of each other, and this tragedy would have had a great effect on members of those families. As well as the SAS members, three members of the Australian Army Aviation Corps also lost their lives in this tragic accident.

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