Lance Corporal Jack Patrick Fitzgibbon condolence motion



Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle—Deputy Speaker) (12:43): I thank and acknowledge all of those who have spoken on this motion before me, and those who will come after. It's always a difficult job to rise on the floor of parliament and to speak on a condolence motion, but I rise to add my name to the many condolences that have been expressed, not just in this House but in my community and, indeed, across the nation for the tragic and untimely death of Lance Corporal Jack Patrick Fitzgibbon.

He was, as we've heard, a very proud member of the Australian Defence Force, and loved serving his country. Jack served with the 2nd Commando Regiment in his dream job as a signaller in the Special Forces. Throughout his career, Jack was awarded the Australian Defence Medal and the operational service medal for counterterrorism, a testament to his dedication to serving his country. His courage, distinction and leadership skills saw him rise fairly rapidly, really, through the ranks as a respected colleague and someone who could be counted on.

I think the funeral in his home town at an absolutely packed church, plus all of the people in the street outside the church, really was a testament to the love for not just Jack but his entire family, because, of course, those that are left behind bear the burden of grief. Jack was the clearly much-adored son of both Joel and Dianne. Joel is known to many people in this House because of his service and, indeed, his father's service in the Australian parliament. So they have given many, many decades of service to their respective communities.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

by leave—I thank the House for granting me leave to continue to make comments on this condolence motion. It's always tough when you have a condolence speech interrupted midway, but we don't get to control the operations of this parliament, and I know that Joel Fitzgibbon, in particular, would understand that.

When I left, I was just reflecting on what an adored son Jack was for both Joel and Dianne. He was of course also a loving brother for Caitlin and Grace, a darling grandson to Anne, a treasured nephew for Therese, Alison and Mark and the beloved partner of Kass. My heart and thoughts are with you all at this time. As tragic as it is to lose someone you love, the grieving rests with those who are left behind. It is that heavy heart we saw when we were really honoured to have the Fitzgibbon family join us on the floor of parliament just last week. We saw just how much grief is carried at times like this by all of those left behind who loved Jack so very, very dearly.

Losing a child is of course every parent's nightmare, and no-one ever, ever expects to be burying their child. That unimaginable pain of burying a child may feel all too much to bear at times. It certainly felt like that when I was able to see the family last week. But I hope that the family and all of the people that they love who are still around them, and indeed the community in which they live, who turned out in force to celebrate Jack's life and to really wrap their arms around Jack's family—I hope that there is some comfort for the family in knowing that they are very much in the hearts and thoughts of our community, of our Labor family and indeed across the nation. We know that Jack's service meant that he had great camaraderie, great friendship, with so many people in the forces across Australia.

We know his life was cut way, way too short. His father has honoured him in saying that he knew that his son died doing what he loved and that, as terrible as that accident was, it was in the service of his nation, something that he had quite consciously signed up for. The exercise that he was involved in was one that he'd done many, many times before. It is just an unbearable pain, really, that the family is left with, but there is some comfort to be gained in knowing that this was a pathway that Jack was fully invested in and had wanted to do. He was very, very proud of that service to our nation. My thoughts are with all his loved ones at this heartbreaking time. May Jack rest in peace.