Southern Telegraph - - News - Gareth McKnight

Brand MHR Madeleine King has re­turned from a nine-day trip to the Mid­dle East, where she had a chance to see the Aus­tralian De­fence Force’s role in forg­ing peace in Afghanistan.

Trav­el­ling with De­fence per­son­nel be­ing de­ployed and five other Fed­eral politi­cians, Ms King got a whirl­wind tour of what life is like for Aus­tralians posted in the pre­vi­ously war-torn coun­try.

This in­cluded first-aid train­ing, weapon han­dling and fa­mil­iari­sa­tion with pro­tected mo­bil­ity ve­hi­cles.

Aus­tralia are in­volved in Op­er­a­tion Highroad, with De­fence per­son­nel help­ing to train, ad­vise and as­sist the Afghan forces as the coun­try looks to­wards a peace­ful fu­ture.

In con­junc­tion with the NATO-led Op­er­a­tion Res­o­lute Sup­port, about 300 Aus­tralians are based in the Is­lamic coun­try.

Ms King said the trip had opened her eyes to the good work the De­fence Force con­ducted in Afghanistan and that it would play a role in help­ing her as part of sev­eral Par­lia­men­tary groups in Can­berra.

“I am grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity and I am glad that I have done it,” she said.

“It is a fair bit of time out of the elec­torate but it was a valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

“My take out of it is the en­thu­si­asm our peo­ple there had for the task at hand. That com­mit­ment to the task makes you re­ally proud.

“Peo­ple should be re­as­sured of the vast good that we are do­ing there.”

Ms King said Afghanistan was thor­oughly ben­e­fit­ing from the guid­ance of Aus­tralia.

“I think a lot of peo­ple are not aware of what is go­ing on there and are obliv­i­ous to the very good work that Aus­tralians are do­ing in Afghanistan,” she said.

“Driv­ing through Kabul, you see some­one sell­ing bal­loons on a street that peo­ple used to be hung.

“That is what the city was — it was one of the more dread­ful places in the world for hu­mans to be in — that it has been able to progress to to­day’s free­doms is heart­warm­ing.”

Ms King said the HMAS Arunta, which re­turned to Gar­den Is­land in Rock­ing­ham on Sun­day af­ter nine months at sea, was fre­quently men­tioned and it drove home the sac­ri­fices the De­fence com­mu­nity make.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Brand Madeleine King in Af­gan­istan.

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