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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12678


Mr IRONS (Swan) (17:19): I rise to speak on the tragedy of the 2002 Bali bombings—a matter close to my heart. I have previously spoken on this topic, as have many of my colleagues. I am following the member for Higgins and the member for Hasluck, and I thank them for their contributions. These bombings were an event that had a profound impact on our national identity and one which Australians everywhere have managed to find inspiration and hope from amidst the pain and suffering.

On Friday, 12 October 2012, Australians everywhere stopped to remember the tragic blasts that killed over 200 people, including 88 Australians, at the Sari Club in Kuta. As a country we were horrified that such a popular Australian tourist destination was the victim of barbaric terrorists with no regard for human life or for the livelihoods of the local Balinese. I recall the strength shown by former Prime Minister John Howard as he responded to his own and to the Australian people's outrage, loss and grief as we mourned the loss of those lives. Mr Howard used the tragedy as an opportunity for subsequent cooperation with Indonesia. In the aftermath he ensured that the world knew Australia would stand side-by-side with Indonesia in ensuring those responsible were brought to justice.

Australia's response to this tragedy was instantaneous. Our armed forces, police and medical professionals joined their Indonesian counterparts in providing on-the-ground support for the victims and families of those affected by the attacks. Over the following weeks the fledging partnership between Indonesia and Australia grew into a strong cooperation. Our armed forces assisted with the clean-up and with the provision of medical supplies. An initial medical team of seven doctors as well as nurses and surgeons worked from the ground in Bali to provide urgently needed medical treatment for the victims.

The bombings were an event that could have driven a wedge between Australian and Indonesian cooperation; instead our partnership strengthened. The partnership between our police forces and intelligence agencies was further strengthened. Immediately after the attack, Mick Keelty, Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, began work with the Indonesian chief of police to ensure the safety of possible targets in Bali and to secure the apprehension of those responsible for these heinous attacks. It is in this spirit that Australians and Indonesians come together on 12 October every year, not just to remember and honour those who lost their lives in the Bali bombings, but to recognise and celebrate the joint achievements of our two nations and the ever-strengthening bonds we have between us.

At 5 am on the morning of 12 October this year I had the privilege of joining the Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett, survivors, friends, families of victims and many other Western Australians in a moving dawn memorial service at Kings Park in Perth. This service honoured the courage of the survivors, friends and families of the victims as well as those volunteers who provided support and services in the aftermath of the attack. It was a cool morning and as the sun rose a lone piper walked down from the War Memorial towards the Bali Memorial at Kings Park. Premier Barnett gave his speech. It was simple, but straightforward and to the point. It was a moving speech, as were other parts of the ceremony, which had enormous effect on people in the crowd. The service even affected those who were participating in a traditional Perth morning ceremony of having a drink. That time of the morning is when you usually see some of the parents and footballers of the Kingsley Football Club. The service also had an enormous effect on my wife, Cheryl, who had never been to a Bali memorial service. Being with the families and survivors at the service brought tears to her eyes. I know some of the survivors from my electorate flew back to Bali for the ceremony. They were friends with my sister, who passed away in 2004. She had a close relationship with those survivors and I hope they had a great experience when they went back for the ceremony in Bali.

Ten years on it is inspiring to see how far all those affected by this tragedy have come. The impact from many of those in my home state of Western Australia was devastating. Many Western Australian's often frequent Bali's warm welcoming shores and, naturally, many local families were affected. In all, 16 Western Australians were killed in the blasts and many more were injured, which had a devastating impact on the WA community. Western Australia was vital in providing assistance to those injured, with many receiving treatment in our hospitals due to close proximity of Perth to Bali. The efforts of Dr Fiona Wood, the Perth burns specialist, are well known and were instrumental in treating and saving the lives of many injured in the attacks. Dr Wood pioneered the revolutionary spray-on skin treatment that saved the lives of countless burns victims and provided hope around the world to many families affected.

The first face many people watched on the news coverage of the Bali bombings was that of Western Australian Peter Hughes.

His swollen and badly burnt body resonated in the minds of viewers around the globe. Although badly injured, he was shown quietly telling rescuers to go and help others worse off than him, saying, 'Mate I’m OK, I’m doing OK—there's lots of people worse off than me.'

Peter has recovered from the trauma of the Bali bombings and continues to run his own successful roofing business. He also established the Peter Hughes Burn Foundation, to see burns victims successfully transition back into active life after a burns injury, becoming burns survivors. With co-patron Professor Fiona Ward and Peter Overton, the Peter Hughes Burn Foundation works with burns victims to provide inspirational support and help them achieve their dreams. Peter is a shining example of the hope that can spring from tragedies such as the Bali bombings.

Ten years on, it is successes such as these that the Australian people and the international community can look to to provide inspiration, even in the face of tragedy. Who could ever forget the vision of Jason McCartney running out for his game in North Melbourne—an inspiration! So many good things have come out of the Bali bombings.

Before I conclude, I would like to take the opportunity to speak about an inspirational community organisation which began in Western Australia: the Bali Peace Park Association. It comprises survivors, supporters, friends and families of victims of the Bali bombings, which provides support for all those affected by the bombings. The organisation aims to establish a Peace Park Memorial on the site of the Sari Club, where the bombings occurred in 2002, where people may reflect upon and acknowledge the terrorist attack on 12 October 2002, along with all the acts of terror worldwide. The Bali Peace Park Association has the backing of the Australian state and federal governments, as well as the Indonesian government, and is currently engaged in negotiations to acquire the Sari Club site.

I met with the Governor of Bali, Governor Pastika, in Canberra, when the President of Indonesia came to Canberra. I had a meeting with him and I asked him to support the aims of the Bali Peace Park Association. He has been instrumental in helping and assisting that association. So I thank him for that.

The association has also developed the Beyond Bali Education Kit, which aims to use the tragedy of the Bali bombings to try to counter violent extremism and home-grown terrorism by educating high school students across Australia. In a positive move forward the experiences of the survivors, including Aussie Rules footballer Phil Britten and Balinese Muslim leader Haji Bambang, will be used in the educational kit available to all Australian high schools in 2013. The education package was developed by the Bali Peace Park and Curtin University, in my electorate of Swan, and was trialled in two Western Australian schools—Perth Modern School and the Australian Islamic College in Kewdale, which is also in my electorate. This fantastic initiative was made possible by a $55,000 grant from the federal Attorney-General's Building Community Resilience fund. It is a testament of the spirit and compassion of the Australian people who were able to turn around a horrific and shocking event such as the Bali bombings into a movement of peace, inspiration and renewed cooperation with one of our closest neighbours, Indonesia. May our strength and friendship continue to grow and thrive for many years to come.

In finishing, I do support the call of the opposition leader—and we also heard from the member for Higgins—for compensation. You can never be compensated enough for anything like that but, at the same time, these people could use that compensation to get on with their lives and to assist them and their families in moving forward.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Mitchell ): I thank the member for Swan. As someone who had an extended family member killed in the Bali bombings, I am sure all families would appreciate the genuine words of members from both sides.