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Monday, 14 October 2002
Page: 5081

Senator HILL (Leader of the Government in the Senate) (2:00 PM) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate:

(a) expresses its outrage and condemnation at the barbaric terrorist bombings which took place in Bali on 12 October 2002;

(b) extends its deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the families and loved ones of those Australians killed, missing or injured in this brutal and despicable attack;

(c) offers its condolences to the families and friends of the Indonesians and citizens of other countries who have been killed or injured;

(d) condemns those who employ terror and indiscriminate violence against innocent people;

(e) commits the Australian Government to work with the Indonesian Government and others to bring those who are guilty of this horrendous crime, and all those who harbour and support them, to justice; and

(f) reaffirms Australia's commitment to continue the war against terrorism in our region and in the rest of the world.

It is a little more than 12 months since the Senate joined together to pass a motion condemning the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and on the Pentagon. Even with the passing of time it is still impossible to make sense of those brutal and inhumane attacks. Australia must now confront the reality of an attack in our own region that is just as vicious, evil and senseless—an attack which has claimed around 180 lives, many of whom we fear will be Australians.

As the Senate meets, many Australian families are already grieving over the loss of their loved ones. Others will be praying for family members who were seriously injured in the explosions and are now being cared for in hospitals in Denpasar and Darwin. Even more are waiting anxiously for news of family members still unaccounted for in the wake of the explosion. This is the reality of the tragedy that is unfolding for these families, their friends and their communities. This is the reality of the human tragedy that is unfolding for our nation. As a nation we offer our deepest sympathies to the families who have lost family members in this senseless attack. We also give our support and compassion to those families uncertain of their loved ones' whereabouts and safety. And, of course, we have provided immediate assistance to those who have suffered serious injuries, many of whom have now been airlifted to Australia.

I thought I should provide some detail to the Senate of the events as we understand them and the responses that have been made. Three explosions occurred on Saturday night. The main explosion was at the Sari nightclub at Kuta Beach at 11.05 p.m. Two minor explosions also occurred about the same time at the Philippines consulate in Manado in northern Sulawesi and near the US consulate in Bali. Reports of casualties from the main explosion are over 180 deaths and about 300 injured; 113 injured Australians were hospitalised. As of some little time ago 14 Australians were confirmed dead. The Indonesian authorities are treating the explosions as terrorist attacks and believe that the principal explosion was caused by a large car bomb.

In relation to the Australian domestic response, as the explosions took place outside Australia the Minister for Foreign Affairs has primary responsibility. Early yesterday morning DFAT formed an interdepartmental emergency task force which met a number of times yesterday and included not only the consular authorities but Defence and other relevant departmental agencies, including Emergency Management Australia, which is coordinating the reception of injured Australians in Darwin, and the Protective Security Coordination Centre, which has held an emergency meeting of the Special Incident Task Force, which looks at such issues as current threat assessment. The current counter-terrorism alert for Australia remains at special CT risk, which has been the risk level since September 11, 2001. The threat to Australian interests in Indonesia remains unchanged at high, and other regional threats remain unchanged as a result of those meetings. To assist with the investigation in Bali there is a joint AFP and ASIO team comprising some three ASIO officers and 12 AFP officers, including specialists in investigations, disaster victim identification, intelligence and forensics. The team has received cooperation and support from the Indonesian government.

Four C130 aircraft and associated aeromedical evacuation teams have been deployed from RAAF Richmond to assist with evacuations. These aircraft are conducting continuous shuttles between Darwin and Bali. A fifth aircraft will launch about now carrying urgently needed additional medical supplies. There have been three sorties from Denpasar overnight. This morning 15 casualties were transported to Darwin on the first aircraft—sadly, one died en route—22 casualties on the second aircraft and 15 casualties on the third aircraft, including eight Australian citizens and foreign nationals including one South African, one Swedish national, three Germans and two New Zealanders. One further C130 task is in progress conducting another evacuation today.

Two aircraft will shortly be retasked to move injured personnel from Darwin to southern capitals' burns units to relieve the strain on the Darwin hospital facilities, and I think there is some civilian support—I saw reference to the South Australian government—offering aircraft for that purpose as well. One P3 aircraft was deployed yesterday to take consular officials, together with ASIO and AFP personnel and other necessary personnel, to Denpasar. The ADF has also provided two ambulances to Bali, where they are being used to ferry casualties from the Bali hospitals to the airport for loading onto aircraft. It has provided medical teams, including Reserve members, to assist in patient care and the prioritisation and coordination of transfer of casualties. The ADF has facilities both at the hospital in Denpasar and at the airport. The domestic response—in particular, the very professional and prompt response from officials, whether they be consular, AFP, defence or others concerned—has done Australia proud in this instance; we are particularly proud of their efforts.

We would also like to make specific mention of the many offers of support and help that we have received from overseas: from the United States; from Britain, which is sending investigative officers as well; from New Zealand, which has offered a C130, an offer we have accepted—that aircraft will be in Australia later today and will then be deployed to Darwin to be used as necessary; and from other countries as well. The sentiments of support and practical offers of assistance are very much appreciated.

The government's National Security Committee of cabinet met this morning. It has decided on a number of things but, in particular, Mr Downer, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Senator Ellison, as Minister for Justice and Customs, will travel to Indonesia either later tonight or early tomorrow morning. They will travel firstly to Bali to express our sympathy and support for those who are injured who remain there and their families and then on to Jakarta, where they will be offering further assistance and support to the Indonesian government in its efforts to find those who are guilty of this horrendous crime. Cabinet has also decided to review domestic security arrangements, notwithstanding the very significant increases that have been put in place over the last 12 months, including, as all senators will recall, doubling our counter-terrorism capability, putting in place a capability to address chemical, biological and radiological weapons, increasing domestic security at strategic installations and airports and on aircraft and the like. Nevertheless, in the current circumstances, cabinet believes that it is again necessary to look at the precautions we are taking, including the legislative reform that we recently undertook to ensure that it is adequate to meet these very difficult sets of circumstances.

This weekend's attacks are a horrific reminder that we do live in a changed world. They are a reminder that we ignore the threat of terrorism at our own peril. Since the attacks in the United States last year, our government has worked to ensure that Australia is as ready as possible to prevent, or to respond to, a domestic terrorist attack. We have made no secret of the fact that terrorists can strike anywhere at any time and that our nation and its citizens are not immune from the tragic consequences of such attacks. We have invested heavily in our domestic agencies and, as I said, have moved to strengthen our laws to give those agencies the powers they need to hunt down terrorists. We have responded internationally through our participation in the Global Coalition of Nations, which is committed to confronting terrorism at its source. We must now make a commitment that these senseless and brutal attacks we have witnessed in Bali will not cower our nation. We must stand firm in our resolve to bring about an end to the threats of terrorism, wherever they lurk.

The weekend bombing of innocent civilians in Bali has outraged our nation and outraged the world. We condemn this act of barbarity in the strongest possible terms. To the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy, again we extend our sympathies and commit our nation to ensuring that those who are responsible for this horrendous crime are tracked down, punished and made responsible for this senseless loss of life.