The Prime Minister noted that the Afghanistan commitment had been inconclusive militarily but praised the social contribution made by Australian forces.
Thanks to you, there are now some 26 girls’ schools in Uruzgan Province where formerly there were none. Thanks to you, there are now doctors and nurses for the most sick and vulnerable where formerly there were few. Thanks to you, there are now 200 kilometres of sealed roads and bridges where none existed before – it’s in the audit of your war. Thanks to you, Afghans know that there are others who are ready to work and if necessary, to die for them. And we should never underestimate the power of good example, in this case, the best example of all.
He went on to look at why Australians fight. (Compare this paragraph with Hugh White.)
Like your forebears, who fought militarism, who fought Nazism and Fascism and who fought Communism, you have fought for the universal decencies of mankind – the rights of the weak against the strong, the rights of the poor against the rich and the rights of all to strive for the very best they can. That’s what Australians do; we always have and we always will.
Australians don’t fight to conquer; we fight to help, to build and to serve.
He distinguished between attitudes to government policy and to serving personnel, acknowledged the deaths of 40 soldiers and the injuries and illness of others and concluded with a reference to the original Anzacs.
See also the remarks of the Chief of Army on the same occasion.