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Monday, 14 October 2002
Page: 5085


Senator BOSWELL (Leader of the National Party of Australia in the Senate and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services) (2:25 PM) —On behalf of the National Party, I rise to support the motion today in relation to the horrendous attack in Bali late on Saturday night. I extend my sympathy to all Australians who have lost loved ones and those who are presently experiencing the uncertainty of not knowing the whereabouts and condition of their relatives. Our thoughts also go to those who have been injured in the attack and who are receiving medical attention either on their return to Australia or in Indonesia. We also remember the people who have gone through this horrendous experience and are now dealing with their own thoughts, of what was asked of them and of their personal escape from injury. It seems that there were many acts of heroism, unselfishness and assistance throughout this terrible mayhem. Great assistance was given to fellow sufferers. We also remember all the victims from New Zealand, Britain, France, Germany, as well as the Indonesian people themselves who have suffered so dreadfully through this callous act of cruelty and destruction.

We hear the news with the heaviest of heart. Of the terrible death toll of 180, 14 Australians have been identified among the dead and one Australian died in transit from Denpasar. The news is that 110 Australians have been injured, with a further 220 unaccounted for at this stage. This figure should not be confused with the Australian death toll, which is unlikely to be known within the next 48 hours. This suffering has affected so many Australians. Yesterday, on my return home, I received a call from one of the Kingsley football team's families, who had been trying to access the help number unsuccessfully. I requested the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to respond to the family directly, which they did. Unfortunately, they could only advise that their son was missing and, after inquiries, is still missing today. When I put the phone down, the enormity of this attack, this crazy act of violence, came home to me. This act of violence has been inflicted on Australia's young people; this has been a senseless killing, maiming and injuring of Australia's youngest men and women. I believe the furthest thoughts from their minds would have been of politics, world tension or terrorism. They were just out enjoying themselves on a holiday.

I thought: this cannot happen to Australia in one of Australia's most popular holiday destinations. But the truth is that, after September 11 last year, anything can happen and it can happen anywhere around the world. Our freedom, the way of life that we have taken for granted in the Western world, is being challenged by people with completely different ideas and values. These terrorists are not concerned about their own people— many Indonesians have been killed and maimed. They do not care about the economy of their own country or their people— their livelihoods and businesses. Tourism is one of the mainstays of the Indonesian economy and will shut down. Chaos, parliamentary uncertainty and the undermining of democratically elected governments is the agenda of terrorism.

We must not let this occurrence spook us into pretending that, if we do not respond to terrorism and face the issues, somehow Australia will escape acts of violence and terrorism. Appeasement never works when you are dealing with terrorism. The act of terrorism in Bali must be a call to Australians that, since September 11, we live in a different world. We must accept that the world has changed and be prepared and vigilant, and we must commit ourselves to continuing to work against terrorism. The Australian government is doing all it can to assist in alleviating the suffering. Through the Australian defence forces, aircraft with medical teams on board are ferrying the injured to hospitals in Perth and Darwin. Qantas and Garuda have increased their numbers of flights to return Australian holiday-makers to Australia. As usual, the Australian government is doing all things possible and responding in a bipartisan way, supported by the opposition. The Prime Minister has responded on behalf of Australia. Our defence forces and medical personnel have immediately responded in their usual efficient way.

This was an horrific attack—an act of killing and maiming of innocents described by our Prime Minister as `indiscriminate, brutal and despicable'. Sadly, it was an act of terrorism in our region of the world. The Australian government is working with the Indonesian government to ensure that they find and bring to justice those responsible for this terrible act. Already officers from ASIO and the Australian Federal Police are assisting Indonesian authorities in their investigations. Our existing agreements with Indonesia on counter-terrorism provide a good framework for our work together. This horrific loss of Australian and other lives in our region brings the activities of extremist groups closer to our attention. The international community has immediately supported all Australians with good wishes and condolences and quickly condemned these acts of barbarism.

It is very fitting that we move this motion in the Senate and mark with the adjournment our respect for this senseless loss of life in Bali—for these hugely tragic events and the loss of so many innocent lives. We are outraged and we condemn this act of barbaric terrorism. We condemn those who take innocent lives and who use as their methods such despicable acts of terror and indiscriminate violence against innocent people. As the Australian government further commits to working with the Indonesian government and others to bring to justice those who are guilty of this horrendous crime and those who harbour and support them, we must firstly consider those amongst us who have suffered, and are suffering now, their own personal loss of family and friends.