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Tsunami lunch brings focus on Indonesia.



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MEDIA RELEASE Andrew Laming MP Federal Member for Bowman

Thursday, 7 April 2005 MR05.017

TSUNAMI LUNCH BRINGS FOCUS ON INDONESIA

Australia’s links with Indonesia took centre stage at a lunch in Cleveland hosted by Andrew Laming with special guest the Hon Bruce Billson.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Billson shares responsibility for overseeing Australia’s foreign aid including the $1 billion announced by the Prime Minister following the Tsunami disaster.

The hundred strong audience debated Australia’s foreign aid, our role in the South-Asia region, and our growing relationship with Indonesia.

Mr. Billson commented that “the interest of local residents is reflective of the strong interest held by the broader Australian community in helping our neighbours in need.”

“This is particularly the case in times of crisis such as after the devastating Tsunami, and more recently the earthquake in Sumatra.”

The crowd observed a minute of silence followed by prayers for the Australian servicemen and women killed in the helicopter crash on the Indonesian island of Nias.

Mr Billson and Mr Laming expressed their deepest condolences for the families of friends of those who have lost loved ones in the tragic SeaKing crash.

Mr Billson explained that our national interest is best served by a constructive and positive engagement with our Asian neighbours.

Andrew Laming spoke of the importance of Australia’s key regional responsibility to do what is can for its neighbours.

“The best weapon we have against extremism is to promote moderate, prosperous and democratic northern neighbours. Only then will strong partnerships deny terrorists future breeding and training grounds,” Andrew Laming said.