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Parliament House, Canberra: transcript of doorstop: Bali terrorist attack.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

TRANSCRIPT 0F DOORSTOP - PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA - MONDAY THE 14TH OCTOBER.

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

Subjects: Bali Terrorist Attack.

CREAN: Like all Australians I’m shocked as the growing magnitude of this incident continues to sink in. This was Australia’s blackest day since WWII. I’ve suggested to the Prime Minister that as a mark of respect the Parliament suspend normal business today for the purposes of carrying an agreed resolution. A resolution that expresses sympathy for the families of the victims and commits us to doing all that we can by way of assistance to survivors and their families.

I congratulate the Government for the speedy way in which it’s moved to date but we have to continue to provide whatever assistance is needed. The second thing that we should be doing today is to stiffen our resolve to fight this insidious ‘War Against Terrorism’. This is now the number one enemy for world populations. This incident, so far as Australia is concerned, brings it to our doorstop. Anyone who was planning this callous, outrageous act would’ve known that many Australians would’ve been at that location. This is something that we have to resolve to work together with in Australia but significantly to rebuild the international coalition to fight terrorism.

JOURNALIST: Does it make Labor more sympathetic to any possible Australian involvement in military action in Iraq?

CREAN: Completely unrelated issues, in my view, and I note that the Prime Minister has said the same thing. This is the revival of terrorist activities. This is September 11 mark II. And if it were not for the magnitude of the victims of September the 11th, this would be the single biggest, by way of victims, terrorist incident that we have experienced. So don’t underestimate, and I know no one does, the magnitude of this, this is horrendous. The Coalition Against Terrorism was formed very quickly post September the 11th. That’s what we have to redouble our efforts on. It is completely separate than the issues surrounding

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whatever happens in Iraq, because that relates to a United Nations process, which we are all agreed has to run its course.

JOURNALIST: What do you mean by this coalition, are you looking at some multi national group to weed groups out of, terrorists organisations out of Indonesia?

CREAN: I think that we have to concentrate very heavily on Indonesia. We have to work closely with the Indonesians, something we just have to do. What this incident highlights is that there are terrorist cells operating in Indonesia. That’s something that concern has been expressed about in the past. What this terrible incident does is to shoot it home. So we have to be working much more closely with the Indonesians to address this problem.

JOURNALIST: How much clout does Australia have with Indonesia and can it impress upon Jakarta that more needs to be done to curb terrorism?

CREAN: It must. We have to fight this together. All of us are threatened by this. It’s Australia that feels threatened and vulnerable today, but it wasn’t just Australians that were attacked and it happened in Indonesia. It happened in Bali. This is something that we as Australians have to respond to in a united way and that’s why I believe the Parliament sitting and agreeing on the appropriate response is important today. But that response has to be working closely with our neighbours, working closely with Indonesia, working closely with the intelligence gathering authorities around the world to stamp out these terrorist cells.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that Indonesia has done enough to combat terrorism?

CREAN: I’m not in a position to respond to that directly. I know that there have been concerns that Indonesia hasn’t been doing enough. I don’t think it’s appropriate to try and place that sort of blame at this point. I think we’ve got to use the incident to redouble the effort. And that’s the message today that needs to be sheeted home to the Indonesians.

JOURNALIST: But you’re saying more needs to be done though?

CREAN: Well of course more needs to be done because this incident happened and there were reports over the weekend that Indonesia was warned. We need to properly, carefully, clinically analyse the circumstances leading to it. That is going to require enormous co-operation with the Indonesians. And I think it’s terribly important that that proceed in a sensible measured way but it has to be with the purpose of stamping out these terrorist activities. No one’s safe as a result of what happened over the weekend. That’s what it brings home. But what we can resolve is to redouble the effort. But that isn’t going to happen simply by carrying resolutions here. It has to be a plan of action. It has to involve greater international co-operation, a greater commitment to stamp out these cells.

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JOURNALIST: Mr Downer said there was no warning, what have you heard about warnings?

CREAN: I’m simply referring to a report that was made yesterday and I accept that there was no warning to us. I think the issue is, were there warnings, how were they acted upon, what steps were taken? These are part of the process, I think, that needs to be further investigated.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that there might be any significant shift in public sentiment re the ‘War Against Terrorism’ as a result of this atrocity?

CREAN: I think the public sentiment has always been there strongly in support of the ‘War Against Terrorism’. It was there post September the 11th and I don’t think the commitment to it has waned. There may have been a sense that something like September the 11th couldn’t happen again. Well there’s been a rude awakening in the last twenty-four hours. This is a horrendous act, callous, violent, murderous. That’s something that should recommit us to what we said we would do post September the 11th. For that there is strong support. We’ve got to build on the strength of that support. We’ve got to do everything possible to bring the perpetrators of this to justice. But we’ve got to put in place a better mechanism to assess and to stamp this out.

JOURNALIST: Has the Government agreed to suspend normal business?

CREAN: The Government is seriously thinking in that direction. The Prime Minister indicated that he was thinking along similar lines and they’ll be getting back to us today.

JOURNALIST: Just on Labor’s role in the post September 11 remedies, Labor has questioned some of the heavy handedness of it, amended bills to deal with terrorism and the forthcoming ASIO stuff as well. Has Labor been as committed on this as you now suggest?

CREAN: Absolutely committed and indeed we put out a blueprint of that commitment immediately after September the 11th. A blueprint, which the Government adopted. It wasn’t where they started and their legislation didn’t get the balance right between being tough against the terrorists but still respecting civil liberties here in Australia. It was interesting when the Prime Minister did his Press Club address on September the 11th he said of the legislation that passed that we got the balance right. That balance was the balance put forward by Labor. We remain committed to being tough against terrorists, to wipe them out, to attack the terrorists and to weed them out. But only the terrorists, not the innocents.

ENDS