CONDOLENCES: Penpraze, Sapper Jordan Ronald
Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (17:14): It is a tragically sad turn of events that we again stand here to acknowledge the loss of another fine Australian soldier, a soldier who was in training to join his comrades in the fight against terrorism and the pursuit of freedom.
A tough price was paid in his training, and that was his life.
Jordan Ronald Penpraze was born in Mornington, Victoria, on 15 August 1990. It does not seem that long ago. He enlisted in the Australian regular Army on 3 April 2012 and completed his Army recruit training at the Army Recruit Training Centre Kapooka; 80 days later marching out, on 22 June 2012. He then moved into Holdfast Troop, Initial Employment Training Squadron, at the School of Military Engineering on 26 June.
Sapper Penpraze died not at war but in training. On 8 October a truck carrying Army personnel rolled during an exercise at Holsworthy Army Barracks. Eighteen men were injured when the multipurpose truck careered off the side of the road and rolled several times, throwing all on board from the vehicle. Sadly, Sapper Penpraze passed away in a Sydney hospital just three days after that tragic accident.
Sapper Jordon Penpraze was a 22-year-old digger training to be a combat engineer, and we heard from the member for Fadden what a great role the engineers do, the sappers do, at times of crisis. They lead from the front. They clear a path so that those who follow can have safety and security. They are the bravest of the brave; the best of the best. Sapper Penpraze was just days away from graduating from his latest round of training and was a respected and very well-liked member of the troop. He was a quiet and stoic sapper who possessed a determination to perform to the very best of his ability. His death is a sad reminder of the hard work and dedication our troops must endure before they face the real conflict on the front line, in the trenches.
Sapper Penpraze's funeral was held on 23 October, a very sad occasion. The military funeral was attended by hundreds of hundreds of family, friends, and colleagues, who came to support Jordan's parents and his partner, Jacinta, and to farewell a good friend, a good friend gone far too soon. Having never reached his goal of a long career in the armed forces, he will be remembered as a fine soldier and a young man who gave his life while in training to prepare to defend our nation and our right of freedom and the freedom of others. And given that he died in training, I think the words of Colonel David Hay, the commandant of Kapooka at the latest march-out, which was held on 13 October, are well worth recounting here in this chamber:
It is an important occasion for all concerned, and I extend a warm welcome to parents, relatives and friends, many of whom have travelled significant distances to be with us—
and that is the Kapooka family: people travel from all over Australia to go to these march-outs, to go and support their loved ones, to go and support Australia's newest recruits. And this occasion was just one of those. Colonel Hay said:
During the past 80 days these soldiers have been trained, led nurtured and encouraged by the staff. Kapooka's long record of achievement is measured by the quality of those who have marched out our gates to become Australian soldiers—
just like Sapper Penpraze—
Our reputation and success rest firmly on the soldiers, the people who fill the positions of instructors and support staff. I acknowledge that, though your efforts come at a personal cost to your families, I thank them too for their enduring support to the recruits.
Today belongs to Army's newest soldiers: and let me focus on you. You now have a title that no-one can ever take away from you. You are a soldier. An Australian soldier. You are the latest to take your place at that long khaki line that stretches forward from Gallipoli, to Kokoda, through Korea to Vietnam, to our current operations in our region and the Middle East, a proud tradition of excellence and success—one that accepts no compromise, one that demands your absolute commitment. So today is a very special day for you: it celebrates continuity as well as change. It is a time to reflect on the achievements of those who have gone before us, who have honoured the uniform that we wear today—resplendent, with its rising sun badge and slouch hat. They are two of the most revered icons of the Australian nation.
And indeed they are. They are revered, just as is the service of our brave men and women who wear the uniform, whether it be the Army, the Air Force or the Navy uniform. We honour them; we praise them. We should always remember the sacrifices they make. Unfortunately, Sapper Penpraze has made the ultimate sacrifice, in training. May he rest in peace. God rest his soul. Lest we forget. Thank you.