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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13366


Mr HAYES (Fowler) (19:47): I too congratulate the member for Solomon for bringing this motion, and appropriately so, to the attention of our parliament. The island of Bali has for many decades been one of Australia's favourite holiday destinations, drawn by surf, beach culture, entertainment facilities, and peace and tranquillity. Australians have traditionally been driven by tourism with respect to our relationship with Bali. The image of Bali as a peaceful, welcoming destination was sadly shattered on 12 October 10 years ago, when a terrorist bomb took the lives of 202 people, including 88 Australians. The number of casualties might have been even higher had it not been for the quick response and assistance from the Indonesian and Australian medical professionals, police and local residents of Bali. In addition to the lives of those lost, 209 people suffered significant injuries, primarily with severe burns. The injured were treated either at Sanglah Hospital, the nearest hospital in eastern Indonesia, or Royal Darwin Hospital. The efforts of the various health professionals, both in Darwin and in Sanglah Hospital, were incredible and deserve to be acknowledged with our highest praise.

I had the opportunity to visit Sanglah Hospital only last year, during my study leave, together with the chair of Royal Darwin Hospital, a very good friend of mine, Colin McDonald QC. I met with the medical professionals, including the hospital's president, Dr Wayan Sutarga, and was briefed on the strength of the relationship between the Royal Darwin Hospital and the Sanglah Hospital. I was taken around the burns unit, which was established as a result of AusAID funding, and the emergency department, where many of the bomb victims were first treated in Indonesia.

The trauma of the terrorist bombing and the strategic need for Australia to be able to respond and protect our citizens led the former Prime Minister, the Hon. John Howard, and his government at the time to commence the creation of the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre based in Royal Darwin Hospital. This centre currently benefits the Northern Territory community and ensures that we as a nation are prepared to respond promptly and efficiently to any trauma event on our soil or in our immediate region. Developing the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre is certainly the right move to be taken by the government.

The government must be able to respond promptly in respect of care for all victims, particularly victims of terrorism. Although individuals are often the immediate victims of terrorism, we should not lose sight of the fact that it is the state that is the actual target of terrorism. The Bali bombing was an attack on Australians and on what our nation stands for. It is therefore the nation's responsibility to provide care for victims, as we have been doing in the aftermath of terrorism activities, including the Bali bombings in both 2002 and 2005. The strengthening of the relationship between Sanglah Hospital and Royal Darwin Hospital and the location of the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre in the Northern Territory are very important to Australia's relationships within our region.

One of the outcomes of the 2020 conference was the identification of eastern Indonesia as being the area of greatest strategic importance to this country. It is our nearest and biggest neighbour to the north. The region is unfortunately prone to man-made as well as natural disasters. We need to have highly skilled personnel ready and able to rapidly respond for deployment to a region where they can deal with matters, particularly trauma events, without delay. It is very important that the government continues to support and fund the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre. Unfortunately, we live in times where natural disasters as well as man-made disasters can strike at any time and we as a nation must stand prepared. I do genuinely thank the member for Solomon for bringing this matter to our attention. I know she is very passionate about it and she should be commended.