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Monday, 1 December 2008
Page: 11873

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (2:08 PM) —Mr Speaker, I seek to make a statement on indulgence.

The SPEAKER —Indulgence is granted.

Mr RUDD —On behalf of the government and people of Australia I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the two Australians killed in the terrorist attacks most recently conducted in Mumbai in India. During this very difficult time our thoughts and prayers have been with the families of Mr Brett Taylor and Mr Douglas Markell, both of New South Wales. Our thoughts are also with those Australians who were caught up in the violence, the four Australians who were physically injured in the attacks and the many others who have been affected personally by this terrible event.

As we grieve for our own citizens and injured, we must also bear in mind the extraordinary toll this has had on the people of India. We must remember too that citizens from around the world have been affected as well. We are truly now in a global village; an attack in any part of the world now affects us all. The Australian government extends its sympathy and condolences to the people and government of India and to other foreign nationals who have been caught up in this violence.

The Australian government continues to offer help to Australians who have been caught up in the violence. We are offering support to people to help manage the physical, the financial and, critically, the emotional impact of these attacks. This includes practical assistance such as counselling services, emergency accommodation, travel coordination and assistance in organising travel documentation.

These attacks remind us of the need to remain vigilant against terrorism in all its forms. We need to continue to take concerted international action against al-Qaeda and any other terrorist group. These terrorists are the enemies of us all, without distinction on national boundary. Australia stands with India at this time. We are offering any assistance that our friends in New Delhi may require. It is important at this point that we get to the bottom of this incident and track down those who have been responsible for its execution and for its planning.

India has faced a longstanding terrorist threat from a range of extremist and separatist groups, including Kashmiri militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, otherwise known as LeT. This group has mounted previous attacks on India, including outside Kashmir. Certainly, there has been considerable activity on the part of this organisation in the past. Certainly no country has more experience in combating terrorism than India. We know that a group calling itself the Deccan Mujaheddin has claimed responsibility for this appalling attack.

It is too early to speculate on who precisely are the perpetrators of these attacks in Mumbai. We have confidence that the Indian authorities will investigate this thoroughly and bring those responsible to justice. We call on all nations to support India’s efforts. It is important at this troubled time that India and Pakistan work together to deal with the challenge of terrorism, to counter terrorism and to root out those groups who have been responsible. Australia welcomes the commitment by Pakistani President Zadari to cooperate in exposing and apprehending all culprits.

Despite massive efforts by governments around the world against international terrorism and many successes in disrupting terrorist planning, the fact is that al-Qaeda and other groups have proven to be resilient and innovative. The threat from international terrorism has not been eliminated. Australians, particularly when overseas, must continue to be vigilant. Australians when overseas will continue to be at risk from terrorism. It is time for the world to redouble our efforts to rid us once and for all of this scourge, the enemy of all civilised peoples.