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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9720

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (10:54): I rise this morning to add my voice and those of my constituents to the chorus of people remembering the horrors of September 11 2001—those awful attacks in the United States of America. Ten years on, we all pause to remember all those who lost their lives in those terror attacks, which changed our world so dramatically. Indeed there has rarely been an event that has dominated our world, and the past decade, as much as this one has. It was very moving this morning to see the tributes on the site of Ground Zero, with George W Bush and Barack Obama attending the day of solemn remembrance at the memorial in the footprint of the World Trade Centre. Memorial services are also being held today in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney to remember the Australians who also died in these tragic attacks. I want to particularly thank Ambassador Bleich of the United States for his kind and passionate remarks, and his commitment to the ongoing relationship between our two great countries.

Ten years ago we were all shocked that such evil was possible. That human beings would fly planes full of people into buildings full of people because of their dedication to an evil ideology is beyond the comprehension of most of us. Being born into, or moving into, a free country makes it very hard for us to understand the nature of totalitarianism and of evil, but the world is full of it and we must be vigilant for it.

Today is a day for us to reflect on all of the Americans and Australians who lost their lives; the brave American firefighters; the ambulance workers; the police; the ordinary heroes; the passengers who thwarted one attack; the soldiers who went to the Middle East afterwards; and the ongoing work of intelligence agencies in the United States and in Australia to keep us all safe now and into the future. We should also take a moment to acknowledge every single Australian soldier who has served in the conflict against terrorism around the world and who continues to do so today. Their courage and determination to defend our nation keep us free and safe and we owe them a great debt. For Australia to have had John Winston Howard present in the United States when these attacks occurred is yet another step in that shared journey between our two nations. The relationship between the United States of America and Australia is strong. We are both nations deeply committed to peace, freedom and democracy. We have a strong friendship and an alliance that is only strengthening throughout the years.

George W Bush was a fine president for a very difficult moment, and I want to take a moment to say something about him. Indeed, he is someone who is often maligned as a president who did not very well in the presidency, but I believe this was definitely his finest hour. It was not just his response in the aftermath of a very difficult and challenging event but his strength and determination in the uncompromising approach to the Middle East, to the Taliban in Afghanistan, to Saddam Hussein in Iraq that changed the world for the better and ultimately brought evil regimes and dictators to justice. Australians' role in supporting these decisive actions was right and appropriate. There is only one way to defeat totalitarianism, and that is with a strong and robust defence of freedom. George W Bush will be remembered fondly for the strength of his response and his passion in delivering it to America. Australia says: 'We are your friends; you have helped us in wars in the past, and we will help you in the future.' We are continuing in our deep commitment to the cause of peace, liberty and the democratic way.