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Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Page: 9309


Mr HAYES (12:11 PM) —On indulgence: Bali is a small tropical island, best known for its luxury holiday resorts, beaches, hundreds of Hindu temples sweeping across the coastline and dozens of volcanoes. It certainly has been a holiday destination for a lot of Australians. Bali has been one of the most popular tourist destinations for Australians for decades. Kuta is the epicentre of all that trade, particularly for those that have young sons; the surf at Kuta is renowned. Kuta is filled with hundreds of restaurants, hotels and gift shops, and almost every night tourists can be seen dancing and having a good time, enjoying themselves in Bali.

Bali had the image of a spiritual place, one of peace, one of tranquillity and certainly one of wonder, but just after 11 pm on 12 October 2002 terrorists took advantage of the island’s nature and its hospitality. Bali was no longer the peaceful place that it had been for thousands of Australians, nor was it the same place for the many thousands of Balinese. The first bomb, hidden in a backpack, exploded inside a popular tourist destination, Paddy’s bar in Kuta. Approximately 10 to 15 seconds later, a second, much more powerful car bomb was detonated. I understand that the bomb, concealed in a van, was about 1,000 kilograms and was remotely detonated in front of the Sari Club. The explosion left a one-metre-deep crater in the roadway and also blew out most of the windows in the town. A third bomb was detonated in the street immediately in front of the American consul in Bali. This bomb caused little damage and only a slight injury to one person, but what was significant about the bomb was that it was packed with human excrement; it was designed to cause maximum moral damage.

The attack, blamed on the militants Jemaah Islamiah, a network linked to al-Qaeda, claimed the lives of 202 people from 22 countries. Australia, which for years saw Bali as a safe haven, a holiday destination, had the most victims, with 88. A further 209 people were injured. The Bali bombings was one of the most horrific acts of terrorism that have come close to our shores. It was an act that some would refer to as Australia’s September 11, not only because of the large number of Australians attacked and killed but also because it was Australian citizens who were actually targeted.

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the Bali bombings, and the recollection of the events of that fateful evening is particularly sad. Earlier this week, the Prime Minister, together with the Leader of the Opposition, made statements on indulgence in the House and remembered those who were tragically killed and injured, their families and friends and those who contributed to the aftermath of the tragedy in a very practical way, including the doctors, the other health professionals, our police and the local residents of Bali. Those who have been touched by these bombings would know that the anniversary is more than symbolic. The hurt and the unbelievable sense of grief come flooding back, together with the anger and disbelief that such an insane act could be planned and carried out by people against fellow humans.

I have recently been reading a number of articles and essays in relation to the death penalty. I think most members in this House know that I have been making a case in relation to Scott Rush, who is currently on death row in Kerobokan Prison in Bali. One essay I came across, written by Brian Deegan, published in the Catholic Social Justice Series and entitled People, Politics and Principle, contributes to the discussion of the culture of life, and it is one that I would like to mention briefly. Brian Deegan is an Adelaide based lawyer who served as a magistrate for some 16 years. He was on the South Australian Youth Court from 1988 to 2004, was a member of the South Australian Police Tribunal and is the author of a book entitled Remembering Joshua.

Brian lost his son Josh in the Bali bombings. His son was 22 years old. From Brian’s essay, I have learnt that Josh headed to Bali with his team mates from the Sturt Football Club. They did this after winning a grand final against all the odds, I am told, so it was a major celebration for them. The very day they arrived to start their overseas end-of-year holiday and their celebration of the grand final was the day the terrorists struck. Josh had only recently achieved a Bachelor of Applied Science degree, and clearly he was an athlete. I will read an extract of what his father, Brian Deegan, has written. He said:

Convicted of murdering my son and hundreds more, Amrosi still awaits his fate. He has been defrocked, uncrowned, isolated and segregated. The demonic grin that once served its master well is thankfully gone; fear and his conscience are his constant companions.

The vision of my son’s murderer, seated uncomfortably on a harsh concrete floor in a room bare of conveniences he had once taken for granted, evokes little sympathy. But the prospect of him picking at grains of rice from his last meal is something I wish no part of.

I do not wish for the death of those convicted, for I oppose the death penalty under any circumstances. But due to my own shortcomings, while I have understood the murderers’ motives, I have yet to find forgiveness and therefore cannot pray for their lives.

I find that passage very moving. It is by a man who has lost his son, a person who is obviously a man of conviction.

Following what I could only say was an amazing investigation by the Indonesian police—and I know firsthand of the level of cooperation from the Australian Federal Police and other law enforcement agencies—the trial, and the denials throughout the trial, the perpetrators of this crime against humanity were eventually convicted. The bombers are Amrozi, his brother Mukhlas and Imam Samudra. The three have exhausted all their legal options and are due to be executed for their roles in the 2002 Bali terrorist attack. They have shown little regret. They are now looking forward to dying as martyrs. It was with profound regret that I read on Monday an article in the Sydney Morning Herald which quoted Abu Bakar Bashir as saying that the Bali bombers ‘are not terrorists; they are counterterrorists because their objective was to defend Muslims’. He said:

They will die as martyrs and if someone dies as a martyr he will get special treatment in the afterlife …

Therein we see perpetuated the myth that is being created here: that these people are in some way seeking martyrdom. These men seek to be revered in their community and, clearly, Bashir’s intention is that they be revered as martyrs for their actions and regarded as holy warriors. I feel they should be seen and remembered for the evil that they have set out to perpetrate against their community and against humanity generally. Let us not forget, either, those who assisted them, those who educated them and those who brainwashed people to think that such violence could in any way be countenanced by a loving god. I would prefer to see the people who are responsible for this heinous act rot in a Bali jail and be a constant reminder of the evil that they have perpetrated.

My thoughts and my prayers go to the families of all those affected by the Bali bombings. It is something that we should never forget. As a previous speaker, the member for Solomon, has indicated, we should make all efforts in terms of our counterterrorism activities to ensure that these heinous acts against Australians can never again become a reality.