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Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Page: 21576


Mr ANTHONY SMITH (10:53 AM) —I wish to briefly take this opportunity, on the resumption of debate on the Prime Minister's motion, to observe the anniversary of the Bali tragedy and to associate myself with the substance of the motion and with so many of the remarks that have been made from the Prime Minister down, on both sides of parliament and in a very bipartisan way. I also wish to associate myself with the substance of what the member for Melbourne Ports had to say about the necessity to fight terror, terrorism and terrorists at every juncture and to leave no stone unturned. I completely concur that this will be a very long and difficult fight which we will have to fight on the ground and which also very much involves values, both in our region and across the globe.

Twelve months ago Australians were coming to terms with the shock, the outrage, the pointlessness and above all the hurt of the Bali tragedy. Twelve months on, in so many ways, Australia is still coming to terms with what Bali meant, what it continues to mean, how the world has changed, how new threats to freedom affect us and how we can best deal with them, both now and for what will be a considerable time into the future. As the Prime Minister said in this parliament last Thursday and, very importantly, again in Bali on Sunday: 12 October 2002 will never be forgotten. We will never forget the suffering and the grief of those families who lost children, spouses, friends, relatives and mates. We will never forget those who were injured and those who helped the injured to survive and to get back home. We will never forget their stories of courage, recovery, resilience and vigour which have been so inspiring and uplifting over the last 12 months and a few days.

A year ago, much was said in this parliament and in the wider community about the character and strength of Australia and Australians. We reflected on the fact that we were a compassionate but also resilient nation. We were struck by the combination of compassion and strength and by our determination not to forfeit the free way in which we live our lives. A year on, I think that that spirit has grown and strengthened. Last Sunday at the memorial service in Bali the awful events were remembered, as they will be again tomorrow at a service here in the national parliament.

In the year that has passed, we as a nation have grown to know through our media many of the injured, even though most of us have not met them. They are people like Peter Hughes from Perth, who selflessly saved others and almost died himself. I think we all watched him fight for his life on the television. In fact, in the state where I come from, and where the member for Melbourne Ports comes from, we barracked for him to survive and to get better. To see his recovery has been inspiring. The same can be said of Jason McCartney, whom we all knew as an AFL footballer. We have learnt a lot more about him in the time since Bali. He epitomised the determination of those who were injured—that determination not just to fight for their lives but to selflessly fight to help others, which, like Peter Hughes, he did.

These are names and stories we all know well, and there are so many others just like them. There are hundreds of stories like them. I want to mention here the stories of two people whom I have had the privilege and the honour to meet. I speak of Nicole McLean and Natalie Goold. Nicole lives in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, in Montrose, at the foot of the Dandenongs. You could not find a more peaceful part of the world. A year ago she and her close friend Natalie were in Bali. Both were injured, Nicole very badly. She suffered severe burns and shrapnel wounds and had to be operated on on the tarmac of the airport. She underwent several operations and lost her arm. For Nicole, her boyfriend Luke and her family and friends it has been a long and difficult year. But what I found uplifting was Nicole's approach and attitude, which is strong and positive. She was determined to survive and is now equally determined to live her life to the best of her ability. She is determined not to be held back, determined to live life to the fullest extent possible.

It is also clear—and I think this is wonderfully typical of people like Nicole, who have suffered this tragedy and had to fight through the adversity—that her friendship with her good mate, Natalie, has deepened. They have developed an unbreakable bond, if you like, out of the tragedy. Nicole was flattened by the blast and, in the confusion and chaos, like so many people, she found herself lying alone in the burning club. Natalie heard her calls for help, found her, broke through a window, got her out, got her help and got her home. As Nicole says, without Natalie's help, she would not be alive today.

Many members will have seen Nicole in the media, together with other heroic survivors, but all of us will see her tomorrow because she will sing at the service here in the national parliament. She will sing in honour of those who lost their lives, those who lost loved ones and her companions who were injured. When she does, she will remind us of the strength of our national spirit and our determination to preserve our way of life. We will all be thinking of those Australians who were robbed of life and we will also be thinking of the innate courage of Nicole and all of her mates who, a year ago, were fighting to just survive and, a year on, are still bravely fighting to repair their bodies and heal their wounds.