Thank you John for the acknowledgment of country. We’re on Jagera and Yugarabul country here and we all acknowledge our First Australians and Elders, past, present and emerging.
Lucy and I are so happy to be with you all today, but not as happy as all of the families here today.
Here with the Minister for Defence and CDF and Chief of Air Force. But boy, your smiles are getting bigger and bigger as the Super Hornets approached. Families reunited, mums and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandsons and granddaughters, fathers and mothers.
What a great day, welcome home, job well done.
Thank you so much.
The Air Task Group has worked in that theatre, in the Iraq/Syria theatre for more than three years, flying 21,800 hours in a total of 2,799 sorties as part of Coalition Force to defeat ISIL or Daesh.
I visited the Task Group in April last year and I saw the incredible difference the air strike operations have made to the Iraqi Security Force's campaign to defeat Daesh. The Iraqi Prime Minister has personally thanked me for the courage, the professionalism, the dedication, the heroism that you’ve all shown in defeating these terrorists. They have lost 98 per cent of their territory. The so-called capital of their so-called caliphate, Raqqa has fallen, Mosul has fallen and the role the ADF, both the Air Task Group, our special forces, our training group at Taji, the work that has been done by Australian men and women in securing Iraq, has been remarkable.
That has been a battle that has not just freed millions of Iraqis who are now able to return to their homes, but it keeps all of us safe here.
These terrorists are a global threat as we know all too well. They’re a threat to us all around the world and your work, your efforts in defeating them in the field, has taken away their greatest recruiting argument.
Their greatest propaganda was that they were invincible.
They swept through Syria and Iraq, they said they were going to stable their horses in the Vatican. They were going to sweep across Europe and that’s how they recruited people.
They have now been defeated in the field thanks to you.
So we know too, that you could not have done any of your great work without the love and support of your families. Thank you to all of your families, who have supported you, who have done the mowing while you’re away and are now prepared to have you back behind the mower, as we were discussing earlier for some of you.
Thank you so much, thank you for the love and the support you’ve provided.
I can say, I know I speak for Marise and the whole Government, we believe passionately that we best honour the Diggers of 1918 by supporting the servicemen and women, the families and the veterans of 2018.
You have our back and we have yours.
Thank you for your service, Australia is proud of you.