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Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Page: 21595

Mr HUNT (12:33 PM) —On Sunday, 12 October 2003 I had the honour of participating in perhaps the most moving and beautiful ceremony of which I have been a part since having the good fortune to become a member of this House. On the beach at Mount Martha, Victoria, in my seat of Flinders—in fact, in the town in which I live—there was an ecumenical service. That service, which brought together people from all different faiths, was a commemoration and celebration of the lives of those 88 Australian victims and the 202 victims drawn from nations throughout the world whose lives were lost on that terrible evening, 12 October 2002, at the Sari Club and Paddy's Bar at Kuta Beach in Bali.

The ceremony, which drew together people from throughout the Mornington Peninsula across faiths and all the different divides, was held on a beach at sunset. It was calm and simple. It sought to remember the families, to celebrate the lives of all of those we have lost and to celebrate the very notion of life which they were participating in when they were in Bali. We remember two things. We remember first the families. Every person lost was somebody's mother, brother, sister, father, son, daughter, lover or partner. They were relatives and friends. As a result of that, there is not just the tragedy of their loss, of each of those lives cut short, but there is also the tragedy and pain experienced by all those who remain behind. Lives were sundered, families were torn apart and friendships were shattered. All around Australia there are communities that have suffered grief. In addition to that, there are individuals who suffered terribly but who survived.

On the evening of 12 October 2003, we remembered those whom we had lost and we remembered those who survived and who have brought with them a sense of the quintessential essence of celebrating their own lives. Despite the tragedy, anger and pain they chose to go on. They have fought, lived, survived and prospered. For that we are a richer society, born of a terrible pain which none of us wishes we had to pass through.

In that context, the celebration, commemoration and remembrance on the beach on Sunday evening taught me what incredible beauty we can draw out of that which is most horrible. We draw that beauty by remembering the people—their lives and their relationships. That was the first thing that struck me. The second thing that came out of the ceremony was the very notion of a celebration of life and of what it is to be Australian. Before attending the ceremony I read a story in the weekend papers about an Australian doctor, who had been one of the key operating surgeons in Bali from the Australian military and who was on the tarmac in Bali the day after the 12 October tragedy. He was tending a woman whose arm was in the balance. She had terrible shrapnel wounds to her body. He said to her: `We're going to apply a very strong pain-killer to you. We're going to do that so we can tear away the dead tissue and infection which are currently in your arm. We are going to do this to try to save the arm, otherwise we may have to amputate.' Having informed this young woman that she may be on the verge of losing her arm, she looked up at him and he could not believe her response. She said, `Look, I knew I should have gone to Tasmania.' Despite the pain, the angst and all the tragedy, there was this great sense of life and of continuing. The doctor said he has told this story to soldiers in Iraq and to people who face tragedy. He did not know about it, but she lost her arm. But she has continued on.

We see a sense of what it is to be Australian; a sense that it is about living and about being young—and being young is about looking forward, not back. That is the difference, whether it is as an individual or as a country: being young is about looking forward, not backward. So we do that. We remember those whom we have lost. We remember their magnificence and what they represented to themselves, their friends and the country. We remember them with love, fondness and great passion. But we also look forward and do what they were doing. They were celebrating their lives, and we continue on by doing that. We do not allow ourselves to be paralysed—never to forget, but always to live and to choose life. That is what last weekend meant for me.

The other thing I wish to talk about is that, flowing from the tragedy of Bali and a year on from the commemoration, we have a challenge as a nation. It is global, regional and national, and that challenge is to deal with the causes that led to the tragedy of Bali. I believe that there are four core elements to what we might refer to as the process of comprehensive engagement. The problem we are trying to overcome is not a religious problem; it is a problem which derives from a group of extremists. It is notionally Islamic, but in essence it is a betrayal and a perversion of the Islamic faith. In the same way that people who carry out acts of violence in the name of Christianity do not represent Christianity, those who represent al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiah and their fellow travellers do not represent Islam. They use the fig leaf of a religious cover to justify their own philosophy of hatred, angst and anger, and the violence which accompanies it.

They do not represent Islam, and I reject those who say they do. What they do represent is an extremist philosophy which manifested itself most clearly in the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban's vision of the world was of a world returned to an extreme state, a world in which there was no freedom for women, no freedom of speech and no freedom of movement—an utterly extreme world and ideology. Their strategy to achieve this over a century has a key strategic milestone—a 30-year milestone—of trying to destabilise any one or more of the four core countries of Islam: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia. It is in that context that we see the terrible bombing in Bali. That was part of a strategy to destabilise the Indonesian government—either to replace the Indonesian government with an extremist Islamic government or to fragment the country and make it unworkable. We cannot allow that to be successful; we cannot allow that to stand.

I believe there are four elements to what we might call the process of comprehensive engagement and how we address those issues. First, there has to be education. We have to contribute to the education and development of that country, and we have to make sure that extremist education which tries to pervert the minds of children rather than open the minds of children from an early age is not allowed to take root or flourish. Second, there has to be economic development. We have a role through trade and development assistance to try and promote economic development and take away the problems and the breeding ground of poverty which can be used for the perversion and sowing of these ideals. So we have a very important role there.

Apart from the positive aspects, there are the preventive measures, and the third measure—and the first of the preventive measures—is the policing. In the last year we have seen an extraordinary combination of operations between Australian and Indonesian police to track down those who were involved with the Bali bombings. My understanding is that currently 29 out of 35 key suspects have been apprehended. That is an outstanding achievement, and the police forces of both Indonesia and Australia should be congratulated for their cooperation and in particular for their achievement. That is an outstanding result, but that will be an ongoing problem we face.

Fourth, we have to focus on the question of hard security. There are those who, no matter what else, will remain dedicated and committed to sowing the seeds of violence and to carrying on in a way which will not allow people to live in cooperation and in harmony. They seek to sow violence, they seek to wreak damage and they have no desire whatever to cooperate. So, in that situation, we have to be involved in hard security, and that will be a burden which all of us, on both sides of this House, will have to bear for as long as we are in this House.

We cannot walk away from that responsibility because we cannot buy ourselves immunity through pretending that the problem does not exist. The great threat we face is not just Bali but that at some stage, somewhere, those who seek to carry out the violence, those who follow al-Qaeda, those who seek to perpetrate international terrorism, will unleash chemical or biological weapons within a Western city. That is a real and present danger and something we have to face, so we cannot buy ourselves immunity through insignificance. In that situation, that is the responsibility that my generation has to bear. If we do not address it now, we will buy ourselves a security nightmare in generations to come, and our cities will be threatened.

To return to the beach at Mount Martha, there were two very clear messages: firstly, we remember with all our warmth and all our fondness those whom we have lost, those who were injured and those who remain; and, secondly, we celebrate those who have passed—we celebrate their lives, their enthusiasm, their youth and their embrace of the future—and we best commemorate them by living with an embrace for the future and an openness, and by celebrating the very notion that they loved life and that they chose to exist and chose not to be fearful. I urge everybody to commemorate those whom we have lost but to commemorate their memory best by living life with a great and warm embrace.

Debate (on motion by Mr Bartlett) adjourned.

Main Committee adjourned at 12.47 p.m.