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Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Page: 4468

Senator MINCHIN (4:16 PM) —On behalf of the coalition, I rise to support the motion moved by Senator Evans and join with the government in expressing our sincere sympathies and condolences to those affected by these horrific bombings in Jakarta on 17 July and particularly to the families and friends of the three Australians killed—Garth McEvoy, Craig Senger and Nathan Verity. We were all, no doubt, deeply shocked to hear that major hotels in Jakarta—hotels frequented by westerners and, as Senator Evans said, by a number of us in this chamber—were again the target of vicious and brutal attacks last month. They are a reminder of the brutality of these terrorists and their indiscriminate and wanton violence against innocent civilians.

We extend our sympathies to the families of those killed in the attacks, not just in Australia but also, as Senator Evans mentioned, in Indonesia itself—these people kill their own citizens—and in New Zealand and the Netherlands. We wish all those injured a safe and speedy recovery.

The threat of terrorism is very, very real and we cannot be complacent, for it is our way of life that the terrorists are targeting. The values that we hold are the values they seek to destroy. It is distressing that Australians are a target offshore merely because of the principles of democracy and freedom that we all value. I think it shocks and saddens all of us that we actually have people now residing in this country who would seek to harm Australians in this country, including Australian soldiers, as has been alleged over the past week—a reminder of just how real this threat is.

Garth McEvoy, Craig Senger and Nathan Verity were simply doing their jobs in relation to Indonesia. That is why they were there and why they were in the hotels that were targeted—innocent civilians going about their normal lives. Our thoughts are with their families as they come to terms with this terrible loss, a loss that they can never have expected to occur, at the hands of these terrorists.

More pertinently for us in this parliament, one of the victims, Craig Senger, was on his first overseas posting with Austrade, working with the embassy staff at the Jakarta mission. Senator Evans most appropriately paid tribute to the extraordinary stress that the personnel in our embassy in Jakarta have suffered in recent years—it must be the toughest and most emotionally draining posting for any of our great personnel working overseas. The dreadful airline crash—not a terrorist attack, of course—was just another example of the enormous stress, pain and suffering which our embassy staff have had to cope with.

We join with the government in wishing that the perpetrators of this attack on the two hotels are brought to justice. We commend the Indonesian government for what they are doing to bring these people to justice and hope that the work between the Australian and Indonesian authorities to disrupt these terrorist cells is effective. We commend the government and all it is doing in working with the Indonesian government to bring this about. In conclusion, I stress our sympathies for all the families of those killed in this terrorist attack.