No tougher way to serve your country, Abbott says
“There are many ways to serve our country, but there is probably no finer way and, I am sure, no tougher way than to be on active service in the armed forces,” Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said when he addressed Australian troops in Afghanistan on the weekend.
“I am very conscious of the fact that the decisions we make as politicians have tremendous consequences for you as the men and women of the Australian Army and the Australian Armed Forces. So, it is very important that we come here for as long a time as we realistically can and try to learn from you, try to understand what’s happening in this place so the decisions that we ultimately make can be as responsible and as well
“I would like to be useful to you in the few short hours that I’ve got here. Apart from just reassuring you that the people back home are on your side, if there’s anything that you would like to tell me, if there’s any message that you would like to percolate back home, please don’t hesitate. I can’t promise that what you say to me will necessarily translate into action because I’m the Leader of an opposition, I’m not the Leader of a government. Nevertheless, oppositions have some influence and if you don’t tell us, we can’t improve the support we give you and while (inaudible) there is bipartisan support for the Afghan mission, that doesn’t mean that things can’t be improved.
” I just want to say that I salute each and every one of you from the Army, the Air Force and there may be a few Navy people here. I also salute the police and the other Australians, coalition representatives who are here doing their best to give Afghanistan a better future, perhaps from an Australian perspective even more important, build a safer world where everyone can go about his or her daily life free from the threat of terrorism.”
A cure for jet lag
“Some of you might have heard that I especially concerned about jet lag. I’ve got to tell you that putting on body armour and helmets descending into an airport is a very good cure for jet lag, so it’s great to be with you here today,” Mr Abbott said.
The Opposition Leader said he had hoped to be embedded in a unit as a journalist might be.
“In fact, I was told by the Army chiefs that journalists were expendable in a way that the Leader of the Opposition might not be. When I heard that I thought, why does the Army have such low opinions of journalists?” Mr Abbott said.
Home page photo: Tony Abbott receives a brief on Australian and Coalition operations by Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General John Cantwell, during the flight from United Arab Emirates to Afghanistan. (Photo: Dept of Defence.)