It is with great sadness that I rise this afternoon to offer the condolences of the people of Canberra to the family and friends of Sergeant Blaine Flower Diddams. Sergeant Diddams was born in Canberra in 1971. He was a member of the Special Operations Task Group and was from the Perth based Special Air Services Regiment. He was employed as a Special Air Service Regiment Patrol Commander.
The ADF touches the lives of many Canberrans every day. Canberra is home to the headquarters of the Defence Force and there is a very strong defence presence here. We have a deep affection and respect for all those in the ADF who serve their country, which is why this loss is so great.
Sergeant Diddams enlisted in the Army in 1990 and after completing his initial employment training for infantry was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in Townsville. He successfully completed his SASR selection course and was posted to the regiment in 1995. This was his seventh tour to Afghanistan since 2001, which is an extraordinary achievement by an extraordinary soldier. But Sergeant Diddams was well seasoned in operations. He had been deployed on four occasions to Somalia, to East Timor and to the Solomon Islands.
He was also a highly distinguished soldier. He had been awarded the Australian Active Service Medal with clasp Somalia, clasp East Timor and clasp ICAT; the INTERFET Medal; the Afghanistan Campaign Medal; the Australian Service Medal with clasp Solomon Islands and clasp CT/SR; the Defence Long-Service Medal; the Australian Defence Medal; the NATO ISAF Medal; the Meritorious Unit Citation; the Infantry Combat Badge; and the Returned from Active Service Badge—an extraordinarily distinguished soldier.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Toni-Ann, Elle-Lou and Henry, Sergeant Diddams's parents, Peter and Cate, and his siblings, Nikki, Sian, Christian and Luke. While I did not know your husband, your dad, your son, your brother, he sounds a wonderful man, and the tributes that we have heard over the last few days testify to that. On behalf of all Canberrans we honour his sacrifice.