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Tuesday, 22 October 2002
Page: 8387


Miss JACKIE KELLY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (10:05 PM) —At this stage I am not aware of any victims from my electorate of Lindsay. However, I have no doubt that some of my constituents have experienced the loss of someone close, someone they knew, someone they had been to school with, someone young. I think having to bury a child is every parent's nightmare. In the normal course of things, parents expect to pass away before their children. I think the hardest thing anyone would have to do would be to deal with the loss of someone so young in whom you have invested so much and for whom you had such great hopes. That was my immediate reaction on hearing the news of these incomprehensible attacks on young Australians in a holiday spot like Bali.

I felt like tucking my family close around me on Fortress Australia, keeping them close to me and not letting them off this continent—`I won't let them grow up; I'll keep them safe from the bad man'. Yet I know in my heart of hearts my children will grow up to be just like me—they will leave school, leave university and want to see the world. They will save their pennies and get some very cheap fare off this great continent and they will go a long way and for a long time. There are very many young Australians travelling and seeing the world for six months or up to two years. It is just such a long way, and we know that when we come back from travelling the world and we create our lives in what is the best country in the world—we have seen the world and we know this to be true—it will be a long time before we get off these shores again. My husband is going to China next week, and I am nervous about that. Again, I want to hold him close and say, `Don't go. Stay close to me; stay safe.'

There are conflicting emotions. Do we build Fortress Australia? Do we isolate ourselves and think that we can somehow protect our children, or do we go forth into the world and try to make the world a safer place? Do we extend our compassion and our understanding to those in Bali who have also lost their loved ones? In a time of national tragedy when we are mourning our own Australians, are we capable of understanding their devastating loss? What about those workers in the Sari bar who were the sole breadwinners of a Balinese family? How is that family going to cope in a nation that does not provide social security? It does not even provide the hospital care and health care that we take for granted in a developed nation. This happened in a developing nation.

I do know the situation quite accurately from the three years I lived in Malaysia with the RAAF. I rode a motorbike. I was young; I was silly; I was six foot tall and bulletproof—and nothing was going to happen. But I always remember telling my mates, `If anything does happen—if I have a motorbike accident—will you please just fill me with pethidine and get me on a Hercules back to Darwin and let them deal with me there. Do not send me to a hospital in a developing world.' I suppose the main fear was infection. You could have the most basic of injuries but things just went horribly wrong. I remember a story in the media of a plastic surgeon who happened to be in Bali and went to offer services in the hospital, and there was just nothing there for him to do anything with. He could not even apply any of his skills or any of his training because there was not even any basic equipment in the hospital. I know the Prime Minister is thinking of a permanent Australian memorial in Bali in terms of a fully equipped hospital and maybe some sort of training scheme with an exchange system, where some of the Indonesian personnel can be trained up in terms of medical standards and they can be given some comfort so that, if people are injured, there is medicine available and a bit more than the very basic care that was available.

To that end, I do have to commend the wonderful effort of the RAAF personnel who got the injured back home to Australia within 48 hours of the event. I remember I trained in the RAAF for those types of events, and we moved our equipment and personnel around. I have done the trip from Richmond to Darwin and from Darwin to Penang on the rattly old Herc. It is an incredibly boring trip, sitting in the back of a darkened cargo compartment with only tiny basic lights. You cannot see; there are no windows to look out. I can just imagine what the scene would have been like on those flights coming home.

I send my sincere congratulations on a job well done to the RAAF medical and other personnel who were involved in that evacuation. I have trained with our medical teams and been on exercises with them, and they certainly know the drill. It is very comforting to know that, with little notice, they are able to gear up and deliver for Australia when the chips are down. I commend them for that. A number of people in my electorate would have been involved in that evacuation.

I commend the attitude of the Australians who were injured, when they went back into the Sari bar to look for their mates. That mateship is something we have known in the past; it is something that is strong enough to withstand attacks such as this. This week we saw the anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein. More than 2,694 Australians were killed and wounded in one of the most decisive, strategic and psychological battles of the war. In that war there were young men in the prime of their lives. I have a quote from Jean Parry, a nurse of the 2nd AIF. She said of the wounded:

Oh, the boys were wonderful. The thing that I remember most about the boys is that they weren't thinking of themselves. They'd come into the hospital badly injured—their main concern was their mates and wanting to know what happened to them.

She could have been talking about the injured in the crowded clinics of Bali on the night of that tragic terrorist attack.

I think caution is now needed in the world that we live in. I would like to think that my children will be able to travel the world freely. I would like to think that they will have the experiences of backpacking through South America, South-East Asia and Europe that I did. I would like to think that they would then be able to make it home to Australia safely. At this stage, I do not have that comfort.

I am terribly concerned for young Australians travelling overseas and I really hope that we come through this as a nation. I hope that we come through it with the respect, tolerance, understanding and compassion that mark us as a Western nation. The fact that we are Western seems to have made us a target. We are free and democratic, and we tolerate views that are different views from ours—and there is no aggression around that. Yet, somehow, we are targeted for being Western—that is all you can put it down to. I do not think I would like my kids to grow up in anything other than a democratic and free society.

It is a troubling time. My heart goes out to all those who have lost someone or are waiting for results and to people who have been injured. I do not think there is a more horrific injury than extensive burns. I hope and pray for their recovery and I know that all of our medical personnel, right across the hospitals of Australia involved with the victims from this tragedy, will be working with them. As the Prime Minister said, they have 19 million mates all wishing them the very best.