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With recent news of the operation to extract Australians and others from Afghanistan, I would like to address Australians and, in particular, the men and women of the ADF, defence, and the many government and non-government organisations who served in or supported operations in Afghanistan.

At this time it is important to say to you: be proud of your service. You must not, cannot, let current events diminish the personal effort and contribution you made to this war. You did as your nation asked. You served diligently in very difficult circumstances. Be confident and assured that your efforts are valued and respected here at home.

To the families of those who have lost loved ones as a result of this war – I understand that words are cold comfort at this time, but please know that Australia will forever honour the memory of your loved one. They helped protect Australia from terrorism and sought to provide a better future for the people of Afghanistan. We will never forget them.

To all Australians: be proud of the men and women who served our nation … they did so with honour and commitment and following in the legacy of the Anzacs. They built on that legacy and we respect them for that.

I know the ex-service organisations around the country I have been speaking with stand ready to support our veterans. I urge those distressed and concerned at these recent events to seek assistance should they trigger mental health concerns.

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