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Tuesday, 11 October 1983
Page: 1524


Mr ANTHONY (Leader of the National Party of Australia) —I take this opportunity of joining with the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) in his motion of condolence which was supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) and the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden). It is hard for me to express the shock I felt when I first heard about the tragedy in Rangoon last Sunday. An outrage such as this is an affront to civilised people everywhere but for me there are some personal aspects which have affected me deeply as they have obviously affected the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I have visited the Republic of Korea several times, and I number many of its Ministers amongst my friends. Only last year I had the privilege of leading a trade mission to Burma where I received great warmth, courtesy and friendliness.

When news of the explosion in Rangoon was confirmed my first reaction was naturally horror at what had occurred. I still find it difficult to express the depth of my revulsion toward any person or group which would commit such an outrage. I am fully aware of how deep a tragedy it is, both for Korea, which has lost so many of its most brilliant and able leaders, and also for Burma, which was host of the visit, and whose own people were amongst those killed and injured.

My second reaction to news of the bomb explosion in Rangoon was fear that people I knew who were my friends would be amongst those killed and injured. Sadly, that was later confirmed. I knew a number of those from Korea who were accompanying President Chun on his visit. Amongst those killed was the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Mr Kim, whom I had spoken to again only recently when he was in Canberra for trade talks. On the Burmese side, among those injured was the Minister for Culture and Information, whom I met in Burma in March last year .

I have already been in touch with the governments of both countries and expressed my horror at the event and my personal sympathies in regard to these two men in particular.

This afternoon I would like to make a brief personal observation about this tragedy. Apart from the fact that friends of mine were amongst those killed and injured, this event had particular impact for me because of where it occurred. Many Australians will have visited the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon. I had the privilege of laying a wreath at the Martyrs' Mausoleum there on 24 March last year. It is shocking for me to imagine the tranquillity and beauty of that area shattered and torn apart by the carnage of Sunday's bomb explosion. It is distressing to speculate on what the motive for detonating such a bomb could have been, and how any motive could justify such an outrage.

Of course, such outrages are not unique. We sometimes seem to be almost in danger of becoming accustomed to them as we read of them, day by day, around the world. Those who perpetrate them try to justify their actions with the philosophy that 'the end justifies the means'. This is not a philosophy that is found only amongst terrorists. It is one which can tempt ordinary, quite decent people. I am not suggesting they are tempted to use a bomb, but by the philosphy . I suggest that many people who have a cause to fight for or a protest to make do not realise the implications of such a belief.

The genuinely evil results of such a philosophy, carried to its ultimate end, are shown in Sunday's mass assassination in Rangoon. They are shown in an event such as the shooting down of the Korean Airlines plane only weeks before, with the loss of 269 lives. Is there any border so inviolate that hundreds of innocent people must die to preserve its sanctity? Is any cause so just that in its name over a score people on a peaceful mission must be murdered? I think that any rational, civilised, person can only say emphatically 'no' to those questions. In expressing our sympathy and our horror this afternoon at the events in Rangoon on Sunday, I hope we can also condemn the philosphy that leads to all tragedies like this, whenever and wherever they happen.

The people of the Republic of Korea have suffered a grievous blow. Coming so soon after the tragedy of Korean Airlines flight 7, it must be doubly hard for them today. It is a matter of great good fortune that because of a traffic delay President Chun was spared. I offer the sympathy of my Party to the President and the Korean people. I also offer our sympathy to the Government and the people of Burma. I hope that this Parliament's actions here today show the people of both countries that, despite the events of Sunday, the majority of people around the world abhor and reject such actions and will work to prevent them from occurring .


Mr SPEAKER —Before putting the question I am sure the House will allow me to add some remarks to those of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock), the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden) and the Leader of the National Party (Mr Anthony) regarding the assassination of the Korean Ministers and officials. In July of this year I was invited to attend the Conference of the Korean Institute of International Studies on Asia-Pacific Regional Co-operation and to deliver the opening paper. At the conclusion of the Conference I was the guest of the Speaker, Chae Mun Shick, for a few days. During that time I met and talked with many of those who met their deaths in Rangoon. They were friendly, hospitable and willing to talk over a wide range of subjects of mutual interest.

I know that Korea, by our standards, has not attained the degree of freedom in civil rights, democracy and industrial conditions which we would prefer. However , Australia has strong associations with Korea. Australians are held in high regard because of their role during the Korean war. We are a major and valued trading partner. There is a history of association between our parliaments. The Australian-Korea Parliamentary Friendship Group was the first such group formed under the auspices of the Australian branch of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The country has shown a vitality in coping with industrial development and modern technology. I believe our dialogue with them will be a factor in developing further the democratic process in their country. Those whose lives were lost were, from my judgment and my association with them, people who were prepared to work very hard and devotedly to improve their country and the conditions of their people. They had skills, will and intelligence. With their deaths their country faces a great loss.

I can only join in the expressions of horror at such a happening and offer the deepest sympathy to their country and their families in the loss that has been suffered by them. I have already conveyed a personal message of sympathy to the Speaker, but would be pleased to convey the motion of the House on its passage.

Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.