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Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Page: 5126

Senator ROBERT RAY (2:56 PM) — My question is to Senator Hill, the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and follows up, in part, the answer given by Senator Patterson. Minister, given the fact that many Australian citizens are being given massive aid by the Balinese community and given the fact that this terrorist act is going to have a massive effect in the short to medium term on their economy, will the Australian government give some consideration to reorienting their aid budget to specifically assist this part of Indonesia in going through a very difficult period? Will the minister ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to approach AusAID for suggestions on how to assist the Balinese people in the short to medium term?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —That is a good question. As Senator Patterson has indicated, the Australian government have responded in the short term to assist Bali in relation to its health services, which have obviously been utilised for the benefit of Australians and others who have suffered in this horrendous event. We recognise also that, beyond the suffering of Balinese families who have been directly involved, there is going to be an enormous indirect cost to Bali in loss of tourist trade and other detrimental economic consequences. It would be unfair to see Bali and the Balinese, who have traditionally been such goods hosts to Australians, suffer more than is absolutely necessary from this event, and I think that Australia should look to see whether there are ways in which we can assist them. I will pass that sentiment on to the Minister for Foreign Affairs upon his return. Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.