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Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Page: 21583

Mr SIDEBOTTOM (11:28 AM) —I join with my colleagues on both sides of the House to remember the first anniversary of the Bali tragedy on 12 October 2002. Like all the other speakers before me, I offer my condolences, the condolences of my family—who were in Bali not long before this terrible tragedy, and of course that makes the tragedy even more stark to me—and certainly the condolences of all the people of the north-west coast of Tasmania and King Island who make up my electorate of Braddon to the families of all those who lost their lives or were injured and to the innumerable people who were injured and scarred, particularly those who were psychologically scarred, by this incident. The tragedy most certainly affected all Australians, but of course it affected nearly every nation and most particularly the Balinese people and the wider population of Indonesia itself. So I join with my colleagues in offering those condolences.

I too, like those before me, would like to thank all those people—ranging from all types of emergency service personnel—who assisted the injured and particularly assisted those families of the Australian victims. It must have been horrifically difficult to actually be on the scene. I know that those people who were victims themselves, those who were injured themselves, were helping people at the bomb site. These were people of all nationalities, and my heart goes out to them as well. I thank the Australian government for its swift action in coordinating rescue and emergency services facilities for those affected. I would also like to thank all those in Bali, particularly the Indonesian authorities, who assisted in respect of those Australians who were killed or injured during this terrible tragedy. Unfortunately, there was a Tasmanian amongst those who lost their lives. He was a very fit and energetic and well-liked young man by the name of Tim Hawkins. Tim was from Hobart and his brother was the gold medallist in Australia's Olympic rowing team. My sympathies particularly go to the Hawkins family and to all those friends of Tim. He was greatly loved and admired.

This tragedy has affected all levels of society and individuals. I was reading only on Tuesday, in some information on the Bali aftermath, a recently published report, Bali: Beyond the Tragedy, that brings into stark contrast how these things live on. Some 90 per cent of Balinese people saw a fall in their income and—this is something that you do not really think about—there was a 60 per cent drop-out rate for the schools as the kids were assisting their families in trying to diversify their means of income. I am told that overall the economy was not as badly hit as many predicted, and certainly there were dire predictions of what could occur. I suppose the thing that we can best do is continue to support the community of Bali by continuing our cultural and tourism links with Bali. It is a great destination for Australians, particularly young Australians, and I hope we continue to do that. Apart from showing support, it also demonstrates that we in Australian society—and this concerns the values that are important to us—continue to go about our business rather than be scared away, because that truly is the intention of those that perpetrated these terrible, cowardly acts. They wanted to do damage and they wanted to significantly and primarily challenge our values and also wreak as much economic havoc in Indonesia as possible. I do not think it was a coincidence. Not only was Bali an important tourist destination, certainly for Westerners, including Australians in particular; it was also a Hindu community. I think that certainly played a part in the choice of Bali as the place in which to carry out these cowardly acts.

One thing that certainly comes to mind is related to a private member's motion that I put to the House on Monday and which had the support of the previous speaker in this debate in this House, the member for Pearce, and that of the members for Macquarie, Cowper and Burke. That is that Friday is United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Unfortunately, there is a link between the tragedy of Bali and the existence of poverty in our world. You could make out many arguments as to why we should tackle poverty in our region and indeed throughout the world. Without sounding self-interested, you could of course argue that from an economic point of view it makes good sense. I think most people, certainly those who have participated in this debate, see that but also see that there is a moral imperative that we assist those who go without.

Poverty is one of those causal links to terrorism. I am not for a moment suggesting that poor people are terrorists, and I certainly hope that that comment is not seen as such. I am saying that people with extreme political and religious views—however poorly religion is used and inculcated in those groups—use poverty as a recruitment ground for their membership. Poor people are very vulnerable. An interesting study, entitled Changing minds, winning peace, was done in the United States recently. I recommend that those who are interested in this look at an article by Tim Colebatch in the Age recently, headed `The West must lead by example'. It starts off by saying:

Western generosity of spirit can be used to triumph over the terrorists ...

Tim Colebatch refers to the study established by Colin Powell which fundamentally tried to answer the question: why do so many people hate us? It was a rather hard-hitting, no punches pulled report. It concluded with an interesting and troublesome conundrum that in the main the people of the Muslim world accepted, recognised and supported the values which the United States upheld. Any informed reading of the Koran and the Bible shows that they share many Judaeo-Christian values. There is no doubt about that. Extremists on either side can find what they like outside those values, but in actual fact the Christian and Muslim worlds share those values.

The report concluded by saying that some of the policies adopted—in this case by the United States, but I am sure that we can indirectly relate some of them to ourselves—were not, in the Muslim world, seen to be aligned with those values. I think that relates directly to the issue of how we, as countries with important resources, tackle the issue of poverty not only in our region but throughout the world. Clearly, we have to demonstrate our values more concretely, more overtly and more practically by taking up the issue of poverty and the massive social, political and health issues related to it throughout our world.

After World War II the Marshall Plan set about establishing the economic foundations for introducing democratic principles in Europe. Imagine a truly implemented Marshall Plan for the world today, where we would spend more on the alleviation of poverty and on health issues than we do on armaments. That would give concrete expression to our values. That would give concrete expression to the value of loving your neighbour as you would love yourself. I think that would do more to tackle the issues at the root of terrorism in our world than many of the overtly militaristic practices and armaments policies that we are implementing at the moment. That is not for a moment suggesting that we go soft or easy on terrorists and terrorist organisations. I would have thought that, with the resources available to us, international cooperation more than anything would allow us to have greater cooperative and coordinated intelligence in order to root out these organisations—which we must.

But we must also, importantly, tackle the questions of world poverty and health issues. That was clearly brought out in the contributions of those members who spoke to the private member's motion on the United Nations General Assembly International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which is to be commemorated this Friday. Again, I join with those speakers on this issue. I join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in offering our condolences to all those who were affected by the Bali bombing on 12 October 2002. It certainly made the issue of terrorism more real and brought it much closer to home. We join with the government in seeking to protect and secure our borders but at the same time help our neighbours to secure theirs and to tackle what we regard as one of the root causes of the recruitment of terrorist groups—that is, poverty.