It is with great sadness I join with my colleagues today to pay tribute to the late Lance Corporal Todd Chidgey of the 2nd Commando Regiment, who died in Afghanistan on 1 July this year, just 29 years old. In doing so, I thank him for the service and the sacrifice he has made for Australia in helping to secure our nation and in preserving democracy throughout the world.
Lance Corporal Chidgey was born in Gosford, New South Wales, in 1985. He joined the Australian Army in March 2006 under the special forces direct recruiting scheme. On completion of his initial employment training he was posted to the then 4th Battalion Commando, the Royal Australian Regiment, now the 2nd Commando Regiment, in September 2006. Lance Corporal Chidgey deployed on six tours to Afghanistan ranging from two weeks to six months.
Lance Corporal Chidgey's colleagues in the 2nd Commando Regiment have described him as a brilliant bloke to know and work with, who was loyal to the core and would do anything for his mates. A consummate professional and a dedicated soldier, Lance Corporal Chidgey was one of the hardest working members of the regiment who never sought recognition or reward. The commanding officer of the 2nd Commando Regiment, whose identity is protected, spoke of Lance Corporal Chidgey as a dedicated commando and loyal friend to his mates at the regiment. He said:
Todd was the kind of soldier and person who would do anything for his mates.
Todd was a dedicated and committed Commando, who served his country, his unit and the Australian community. We should celebrate his service, his life and his contribution to ensure a better world and keep this in our minds as we mourn his passing.
It is the nature of commandos that aspects of their work, their actions and often their identities must not be disclosed. Many times before in this place I have spoken about the special bond that exists within commando regiments. When a soldier joins the commandos, he and his family are commandos for life. The commandos are more like a brotherhood than any other regiment I know, so when one of their fellow commandos dies in action it is like losing a brother. Today I would like to pass on my sympathies to the 2nd Commando Regiment. I know that you have lost a brother and I also know that Lance Corporal Chidgey's family will take comfort from the ongoing support they will receive from you—I know they will continue to provide ongoing support; I have seen it in the past—and the love and respect that you have shown their son.
Lance Corporal Chidgey's family have said that they will remember Todd as the consummate gentleman, a son and a brother who was well mannered, who was loyal and always there for his family. They have said he never forgot a birthday and he was extremely generous. If you were his friend, he would stick by you. He was a champion of the underdog. My deepest sympathies and respect go to Lance Corporal Todd Chidgey's mother, his father, his brothers, his partner, his extended family and friends and his fellow commandos. Australia will never forget his sacrifice. May he rest in peace.