Friday, 23 April 2010

Released on behalf of the Minister for Defence - MSPA 125/10

The Governor-General of Australia, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, paid a surprise visit yesterday to Australian Troops deployed to Tarin Kowt and Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan.

The visit came in the lead up to ANZAC Day, with Her Excellency first flying to the main Australian operating base at Tarin Kowt in Oruzgan Province. There she had lunch with soldiers from the First Mentoring Task Force and Her Excellency was also shown an equipment display.

Addressing the soldiers at a gathering in the main recreational area at the base, Ms Bryce thanked all those present for providing her with a warm welcome to Afghanistan.

“I want you to know how much it means for me to be here today as we approach ANZAC Day,” Ms Bryce said.

“To have this opportunity to express to you my admiration and respect for what you do and what you stand for – I want you to know that you are so often in my thoughts.

“I see in you so much that makes me feel proud of you, of our country, of our great traditions in military service, in defending freedom, democracy, the dignity and worth of every human being.

“I say these words to you on the 22nd of April from my heart and from all Australians.”

Corporal Andrew Lawrence, from the First Mentoring Task Force in Tarin Kowt, had an opportunity to talk to the Governor-General during her visit.

“It’s an honour to have her come over here and address us,” Corporal Lawrence said.

“We talked about work and the reconstruction tasks we have going on at the moment.”

Before returning, Ms Bryce made an additional visit to Australian Forces based at Kandahar Airfield. The Governor-General met with personnel from the Rotary Wing Group who operate two CH-47 Chinook helicopters as well as the Australian Heron detachment which operates the Heron unmanned surveillance aircraft.

This is the second time Ms Bryce has visited Australian troops in the Middle East. The Governor-General previously visited shortly before Australia Day in January 2009, where she met with soldiers from the First Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force in Tarin Kowt.

Australian Forces in Afghanistan will commemorate this ANZAC Day with a traditional dawn service and gun-fire breakfast. Ms Bryce will be travelling to Turkey for the 95th Anzac Day commemoration at Gallipoli.

Media note: Vision will be fed to all networks via Parliament House at 9:00am today.

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Media Contact: Defence Media Liaison: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

Issued by Ministerial Support and Public Affairs, Department of Defence, Canberra, ACT

Phone: 02 6127 1999, Fax: 02 6265 1545

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