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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 1840

Senator FISHER (South Australia) (11:46): I too rise to speak in support of the Assisting Victims of Overseas Terrorism Bill 2012. Travellers, like soldiers, these days need to accept the risks. Neither soldiers nor travellers go overseas to be injured or to die, but these are risks that both soldiers and travellers must now accept as a potential reality. It is now on the notice paper, as it were, for our civilian population to think about preparation and to think about self-help in the event of a tragedy when travelling overseas. Initiatives of the sort that Senator Eggleston has just spoken about such as Smartraveller, travel insurance, self-help and good old commonsense when we are travelling overseas must be the very first steps.

This bill seeks to make appropriate and modest provision to Australians travelling overseas who are injured in a terrorist attack or, if they are killed, to their next of kin. It is very clear that the bill seeks to model itself upon the various states victim of crime legislation. Proposed section12(c) of the bill states:

In administering the framework, the Secretary is to ensure that:

…   …   …

(c)   procedures and practices established under … this Act and for the operation of the framework … are broadly commensurate with the procedures and practices established under State and Territory victims of crime compensation schemes.

After all, that is a very important part of the point. Were this domestic terrorism about which we are speaking, then people would be broadly compensated by states and territories victim of crime legislation. The only difference, and the tragic difference, is that we are talking in this bill about Australians travelling overseas who are targeted by ruthless terrorists because they are Australians, because of who they are and where they live. Terrorists do not necessarily care who else they get as collateral on the way through and they do not specifically care whether they get you or me, but they know that they will get some of us. In that respect, Australians travelling overseas have diminished control, if you like, as to whether they will suffer tragedy.

This bill seeks to be a modest and appropriate help in those cases. Senator Singh attempted to suggest, in referring to the introduction of a bill last year by former Attorney-General McClelland, that that bill was broadly consistent with this bill.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Fawcett ): Order! The time for the consideration of this matter has expired.

Debate adjourned.