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Tuesday, 20 March 2007
Page: 3


Senator BOSWELL (Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (12:42 PM) —I join the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in speaking on the condolence motion for those who were killed on 7 March. On Wednesday, 7 March, Australia lost five remarkable people in an air crash at Yogyakarta airport. All had been serving their country at the time of the crash.

The five Australians included two Australian Federal Police officers, Mark Scott and Brice Steele. They were dedicated, skilled and highly respected police officers. Brice Steele was one of Australia’s leading counterterrorism experts and headed the AFP office in Jakarta. He was fluent in several Chinese dialects and was an expert on the Indonesian extremist group Jemaah Islamiah. He was one of the youngest agents ever promoted to the AFP’s executive service. He was on his way to a terrorism conference to be chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, when the plane crash occurred. Brice Steele is survived by his wife, Kellie, who is also a member of the Australian Federal Police.

Mark Scott was a decorated federal agent. He was the leader of the regional engagement team in Indonesia and was working closely with the Indonesian national police on counterterrorism. Mark Scott was also on his way to the terrorism conference. Mark Scott had worked for community police stations at Tuggeranong and Woden here in Canberra and was well known throughout the service. Mark leaves behind his wife, Sally, and three children. Both officers had dedicated much of their careers to working offshore and were passionate about protecting Australia as well as our neighbouring countries.

Allison Sudradjat was a mother, humanitarian, aid worker and diplomat who worked for AusAID leading Australia’s Indonesian aid program. She was one of Australia’s most capable and dedicated aid workers. She was indispensable in directing Australia’s $1 billion tsunami aid effort. She was on her way to Yogyakarta as part of the official Australian government party when the plane crashed. Allison is survived by her husband, Ris, and four children, Jamila, Imran, Zaini and Yasmin. Australian diplomat Elizabeth O’Neill leaves behind her nine-month old daughter Lucinda and her husband Wayne Adams. Ms O’Neill was the Australian Embassy’s public face in Indonesia during tragic times. She was awarded an Order of Australia for her work after the first Bali bombings in 2002.

Morgan Mellish was an award-winning journalist with the Australian Financial Review. He was living in Indonesia as a foreign correspondent. We knew him here and respected him. He won a Walkley award in business journalism. He also loved surfing and sailing. He sailed in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in 1998 when rough seas nearly wiped out the whole race; it killed six people and forced the rescue of 55. He will be missed by his family: sisters Caroline and Lucy Mellish, parents Peter and Dawn Mellish, and his partner Nila Tanzil.

Each of these five brought gifts from Australia to the world in aid, in communication and in international policing. Each left our shores voluntarily to make these gifts, to personally be the gift. Involuntarily they returned. We think of the pain in the hearts of their families and friends throughout the world. We wish there were words of comfort when there are no words for the death of the young and the brave. Australia is proud of them. All had in common a reaching out to others, a refusal to sit at home and do nothing. Each had a professional job to do that pivoted on being Australian in a challenging world. They went out, willing and talented; they came home too early, under our flag. On behalf of The Nationals I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the families and friends of these five Australians. I also would like to extend my sympathies to the families of the other 17 people who lost their lives in this air crash.