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Federal Parliament Condemns Bali Attacks

October 14, 2002

The House of Representatives and the Senate have each unanimously passed a resolution condemning the terrorist attacks in Bali. Both Houses have adjourned as a mark of respect until tomorrow.

In his speech, the Prime Minister, John Howard, described the attacks as barbaric, wicked and evil, and said the war on terrorism must go on unconditionally. He announced that in response to a suggestion from the Opposition Leader, Simon Crean, next Sunday (October 20) will be a national day of mourning. Howard said that Foreign Minister Downer and Justice Minister Ellison will visit Indonesia later tonight. Howard also announced that the National Security Committee of Cabinet at its meeting this morning decided to review Australia's anti-terrorist legislation.

Seconding the motion, Simon Crean, endorsed the comments of the Prime Minister, but issued a warning that in the fight against terrorism, innocent citizens not be subjected to undue scrutiny, signalling a future political battle with the government over civil liberties, similar to that which took place in the United States earlier this year. Crean also called on Howard to convene a Regional Summit on Terrorism.


This is the text of John Howard's Address to the House of Representatives on the bombings in Bali.

I move that this House:

  1. expresses its outrage and condemnation at the barbaric terrorist bombings which took place in Bali on 12 October 2002;

  2. extends its deepest and heartfelt sympathy to the families and loved ones of those Australians killed, missing or injured in this brutal and despicable attack;

  3. offers its condolences to the families and friends of the Indonesians and citizens of other countries who have been killed or injured;

  4. condemns those who employ terror and indiscriminate violence against innocent people;

  5. commits the Australian government to work with the Indonesian government and others to bring those who are guilty of this horrendous crime, and all those who harbour and support them, to justice;

  6. reaffirms Australia's commitment to continue the war against terrorism in our region and in the rest of the world.

For the rest of Australian history, 12 October 2002 will be counted as a day on which evil struck, with indiscriminate and indescribable savagery, young innocent Australians who were engaging in an understandable period of relaxation and whose innocence was palpable and whose death and injury we join the rest of the Australian community in marking and mourning today.

In many respects the word terrorism is too antiseptic an expression to describe what happened. It is too technical and too formal. What happened was barbaric brutal mass murder without justification. It is seen as that by the people of Australia and it is seen as that by the people of the world. It is a terrible reminder that terrorism can strike anyone anywhere at any time. Nobody anywhere in the world is immune from terrorism. It is a reminder that, in this time of a borderless world with a particularly mobile young population, Australia can scarcely imagine that it can be in any way immune from such horrible attacks.

I know that the thoughts of everyone in this parliament--and, indeed, the thoughts of millions of Australians--are with those of our fellow countrymen and women who still do not know whether their daughter or their son or their brother or their sister or their lover or their mother or their father or their mate is alive or dead. The agony of waiting at the end of a mobile telephone for a call is an anxiety that we can only begin to think about and try in our own inadequate way to share, and we hope that that effort is of some comfort to them. I know that the hearts of every man and woman in this parliament will go out to them and to those who know the worst already, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who are coping with injuries, many of them horrendous burns as a result of the flames that followed the bombing of the nightclub.

At present, the best advice I have is that there is a total of 181 dead. Very few of these have been identified. According to advice from the Indonesian authorities and our Consulate-General in Bali, 14 Australians are now confirmed among the dead and at least 113 Australians have been hospitalised following the attacks. We are still trying to establish the precise number of people evacuated to Australia, but the best advice is that it is in the order of 67 to 70. There are still 220 Australians unaccounted for. It should not be automatically assumed that all of those are dead but, given the very high percentage of Australians who were in the nightclub at the time of the bombing, we should as a nation prepare ourselves for the very real likelihood that the death toll of Australians will climb significantly when the final tally and identity of the fatalities is known.

As the House and, I am sure, the nation will be aware, a major rescue and medical evacuation operation has been under way since news of the attack came through. On behalf of this parliament and all of the Australian people, I want to express our gratitude to and admiration for the officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; the men and women of the Australian Defence Force, particularly the Royal Australian Air Force; and the doctors, nurses and paramedics, many of whom have worked in very difficult circumstances. I also record my thanks to the various state governments that have offered help, to Qantas and to many other private individuals who have provided help and assistance. The willingness of the government to provide evacuation facilities for all Australians and, indeed, others in need of medical attention remains. No expense will be spared and no limitation will be placed upon our willingness to do that.

This foul deed--this wicked, evil act of terrorists--has not only claimed the lives of Australians but also claimed the lives of many of the innocent people of Bali, a beautiful, hitherto peaceful part of Indonesia. Bali is much loved by so many Australians. In many cases, it is the first place that young Australians visit. Many of us will feel the poignancy of this attack coinciding with the end of the football season in Australia. So many of the young people in that club that night were members of Australian rules football teams, rugby league teams and rugby union teams. They were having a bit of fun at the end of a hard season. It is that connection with the everyday occurrences of life which we know so well and embrace so lovingly, that cruel conjunction, which makes something such as this that much more despicable and something that all Australians will utterly repudiate to the depths of their being.

We must remember, though, that this will have an enormous impact on the people of Indonesia and the economy of Bali. The Indonesian economy is a fragile economy. It relies very heavily on tourism. Those who did this are no friends of Indonesia. Those who did this sought to inflict misery on and deliver hatred to not only the people of Australia and the people of the other nations who lost their sons and daughters but also the people and the government of Indonesia. We must understand essentially what has happened. This is a vile crime which has claimed the lives of an as yet uncounted number of Australians on Indonesian soil.

All of us have a right to feel a sense of deep anger and a deep determination to do everything we can, as a nation and as a community, working with the government and the people of Indonesia, to bring to justice those who are responsible for this crime. We owe it to those who died, we owe it to those who have been injured and we also owe it to a proper sense of justice. Nothing can excuse this behaviour. No cause--however explained, however advocated, however twisted, however spun--can possibly justify the indiscriminate, unprovoked slaughter of innocent people. That is what has occurred here. We must do all we can, as a nation and as a community, to mete out a proper response--a measured, sober, effective response--which brings to justice, if we can, those who are responsible.

It is necessary, in the course of this, for us to cooperate with the government and the people of Indonesia. Yesterday I spoke by telephone to President Megawati. She expressed her horror at what had occurred. She agreed with me that, on all the evidence available to us, this was clearly the act of terrorists. There can be no other explanation. Both of us agreed that every effort should be made to bring those responsible for this act to justice.

In that context, the House will be aware that a number of Australian Federal Police and some ASIO officers have already gone to Bali. I can also announce that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison, will travel to Indonesia either tonight or tomorrow morning. They will go first to Bali to visit a number of those who are still hospitalised there and will then go on to Jakarta for discussions with the Indonesian government regarding cooperation between our two governments in the pursuit of those who have been responsible for this outrage. They will do that against the background of the memorandum of understanding against terrorism which was signed in Jakarta during my visit earlier this year. They will be accompanied on their visit by Mr Mick Keelty, the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, and also by Mr Dennis Richardson, the head of ASIO. Their mission will be to maximise cooperation between Australia and Indones! ia in pursuit of the murderers. Their mission will be to emphasise, by their presence and by what they convey on behalf of the Australian government, the willingness of Australia to offer all available resources to assist the Indonesian authorities in tracking down those responsible.

I can also inform the House that this morning the National Security Committee of cabinet met in the wake of this outrage. We discussed the proposal that the two ministers travel to Jakarta. We also decided to institute a review of the adequacy of domestic terrorist legislation. It is inevitable that, in the wake of what occurred in Bali over the weekend, the thoughts of Australians will turn to the potential vulnerability of our own soil, our own mainland, to a possible terrorist attack. There is no point in ignoring that. I do the Australian people no service if I pretend that, in some way, it cannot happen on the Australian mainland. In a sense, this is sequential. I do not think any of us believed that something like 11 September 2001 would happen until it really happened. We might have intellectualised afterwards and said, 'Oh yes, we thought that might happen,' but in our hearts we did not really believe it was going to happen.

Equally, I do not think many Australians contemplated that what happened at the weekend in Bali would in fact occur. It is therefore very important that we disabuse ourselves for all time if any of us entertain the notion that something like that cannot happen in one of our cities and on our own mainland. We must dedicate and commit ourselves to doing all we can to guard against such an event. We therefore need to again assess the adequacy of our domestic law. I know it has been only recently reviewed, but further events have occurred and we are required as a matter of responsibility to almost 20 million Australians to do that. It is also necessary that we review the adequacy, which I have asked be done, of our counter-terrorism capacity. Once again, that was the subject of significant review after 11 September 2001 and major augmentation of the assets followed as a result of that review. It is therefore timely that those assets and that capacity also be reviewed.

I do not say these things lightly or in any sense of overdramatising the situation, but we are living in different circumstances and different times. That has been the case since 11 September last year; it is dramatically more so the case now, because what happened at the weekend claimed our own in great numbers, was on our own doorstep and touched us in a way that we would not have thought possible a week ago or even three days go. It has been the case that all the world, including Australia, has been more vulnerable to potential terrorist attacks since 11 September last year. In relation to the events in Bali, it is obvious that the Australian government has been concerned for some considerable time about the existence of extremist groups in the region, especially in Indonesia, with links to al-Qaeda and the real possibility of terrorist attacks against Western interests. That has been not only a concern of the Australian government but also a constant concern of the gover! nment of the United States. That concern, and the concern of our American friends, has been regularly communicated to the Indonesian authorities. It was one of the reasons that lay behind the negotiation of the memorandum of understanding on terrorism, to which I referred a moment ago.

I can inform the House that the intelligence available to the government highlighted the general threat environment but was at no time specific about Saturday night's attack in Bali. Indeed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's travel advice reflected the heightened level of concern which followed the terrorist attacks in September of last year. It was very much against the background of the general threat disclosed by intelligence that the government issued its alert in early September about the possible threat to Australian interests in the region around 11 September 2002.

It is apparent from the words of the resolution and from what has been said over the last 36 hours and what is self-evident from an examination of the realities that confront Australia and the rest of the civilised world today that the war against terrorism must go on in an uncompromising and unconditional fashion. Any other course of action would be folly. Retreat from the war against terrorism will not purchase for the retreaters immunity against the attacks of the terrorists. That has been the experience of the last year; that has been the experience of mankind through history. You will not escape the reach of terrorism by imagining that if you roll yourself into a little ball you will not be noticed, because terrorism is not dispensed according to some hierarchy of disdain; it is dispensed in an indiscriminate, evil, hateful fashion. Those who imagine that it is dispensed according to a hierarchy of disdain do not understand history and are deluding themselves.

The war against terrorism is not, as has frequently been said in this place, a war against Islam. People of good Islamic faith will abhor what happened in Bali. They will find it as despicable to the tenets of their faith as Christians, Jews and many others will find it despicable to the tenets of their faith. It is therefore important that we reaffirm again our commitment to a tolerant Australian community--an Australian community that, while embracing all, is an Australian community bound together by common values of openness, individual liberty and individual freedom. We fight terrorism because we love freedom; we fight terrorism because we want to preserve the way of life that this country has; we fight terrorism because we share the values of other countries that are in the war against terrorism; and we fight terrorism because it is intrinsically evil and you do not seek to covenant with evil and you do not seek to reach an accommodation with those who would destroy your sons and daughters and take away the security and the stability of this country.

In the hours that have followed this terrible outrage--this dark day for the people of Australia--there have been many expressions of concern from world leaders. I spoke at length this morning to President Bush of the United States and I received a call last night from British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark. Her Majesty The Queen has sent a message of sympathy and condolence and I have received messages from many world leaders. All of them have a common theme and a common resonance, and that is that, in the world in which we live, our problems are the problems of others and the problems of others are so often ours as well. We live in a globalised world. We live in a world in which the young, in particular, are more footloose and more mobile than even their mobile parents and grandparents, and there is no escape in those circumstances from the reaches and the ravages of terror.

I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the constructive way in which we have been able together to discuss these challenges to our country. Our country belongs to all of us, and this is a challenge to the fabric of this country and what it stands for. The Leader of the Opposition wrote to me and suggested that we might have a national day of mourning in relation to the events, and I am very happy to support that proposition. I propose that next Sunday be observed as a national day of mourning. It is of course sadly the case that we do not know the full extent of the horror that has overtaken our people--the precise death toll may not be known for several days--and it does seem that a national day of mourning next Sunday would be appropriate, and perhaps at some later stage it would also be appropriate to have a national memorial service.

In different ways, different communities in different parts of our country will mourn the abrupt and brutal deaths of so many and reflect on their own lives. In our own way we must try to offer comfort, care and hope to their bereaved friends, lovers and relatives. It is a very sad time for our country but it is a time--as always in cases like this--that has brought forth heroism, decency and goodness. Already stories of people assisting others at enormous risk to themselves are emerging, as are stories of the dedication of the staff of the hospitals and the commitment of so many. We think also of the lovely people of Bali who have been such friends to so many Australians of so many generations on so many occasions. We extend our thanks, our warmth and our affection to them. I am saddened beyond words of proper description by what has happened. I hope I speak for all Australians in sending my and their love to those who are grieving and in expressing the fierce determination to do everything I and we can to bring to justice those who have done such evil things to our people.


This is the text of Simon Crean's speech to the House of Representatives on the bombings in Bali:

I join with the Prime Minister in support for this motion—a motion that has the agreement of the House and that sends our sympathy on a day of great tragedy for all of Australia. It is a motion that expresses our grief and sympathy; it demonstrates our commitment to assist those returning home and those who are doing the grieving. But, importantly, it is a motion that reaffirms our resolve, out of this incident, to ensure that every effort is used to stamp out terrorism. This was a brutal act. It was a calculated, brutal act against innocent Australians as well as innocent residents of Indonesia and citizens from around the world. It sheets home stronger to us because it would appear that so many Australians are involved. I fear that it will be our single blackest day since World War II. I say that knowing that there have been terrible incidents in our history, since that time, in which many lives have been lost—but never so many, it would seem, in one day.

If one looks at all the reports and pictures in the newspapers, the common thread that one sees is young Australians on holiday, young Australians who were over there to enjoy themselves and young Australians, victims of this, who have been cut down in the prime of their lives. Australians identify very much with Bali. Many of us have been there. Practically all of us know someone who has been there, and that is why, when we think of this incident, we are left with the impression: it could have been me. In that sense, I think we get something of a better understanding as to what Americans must have felt on September 11 in particular: it could have been them. It is true that in those circumstances Australian lives were lost, and it was not so long ago that, on the anniversary of that September 11 attack, this House remembered them. But I think that those circumstances come together not only to give us a greater sense of grief but also to heighten the sense of vulnerability that we all face.

Young Australians on holidays, young people everywhere: this was the sort of place that, when you look at the location where this bomb was detonated—outside a nightclub—many would gravitate to to just enjoy themselves. The result was not just a loss of life; it was a loss of innocence and it was also, as the Prime Minister has remarked, very much a loss of mateship. A lot of people were there in groups, many of them football teams. We have heard the stories of the Kingsley Football Club from Western Australia. The member for Cowan, Graham Edwards, raised with me last night how he could assist in trying to get more information concerning them. The Platypi Rugby Union football club from Forbes were over there, from which so tragically it would seem so many people have not yet been located. They had arrived eight hours earlier, and they headed straight for this nightclub. These are the stories that no doubt will continue to unfold over the coming days, weeks and months. This will be an incident that does not go away. It is one of those circumstances in which we as a nation need to grieve, we need to extend our sympathy, but most of all we need to stand united to demonstrate our resolve. There were other football clubs over there, including AFL clubs. Players from the team I support—the Kangaroos—Mick Martyn and Jason McCartney, happened to be across the road at another bar when the explosion happened. They were knocked to the floor. Thankfully, they are on their way home. Jason will require medical treatment in the Darwin Hospital. He, interestingly enough—just to show the character of the circumstances—gave up a seat on an earlier plane for someone whom he considered more deserving of it. I think that this demonstrates in these times of great crisis how we pull together.

I join with the Prime Minister and say that, in determining our resolve to pursue the terrorists, we have to be certain that it is only the terrorists that we pursue. This bombing is a crime against the teachings of all religions, Islam amongst them. This is the work of criminals and fanatics; it is not the work of people of faith. I note that Islamic leaders have been very strong in their condemnation of this action. Let us not, in the circumstance of our grief and in the search for rationale or reason in this, make scapegoats of others. This requires a proper assessment of the facts. It requires the cooperation with other countries that the Prime Minister has talked about. But, most of all, we need to make a clear-headed judgment as to the way in which the perpetrators of these crimes are to be brought to justice.

The Prime Minister has indicated that he is looking at the review of our counter-terrorism capacity. I welcome that. In the circumstances in which our forces are fighting the war against terrorism in another theatre, I think it is appropriate to make an assessment of our vulnerability. I note, from the advice we have had, that this is attack has not been identified as being directed against Australia per se and that it has not led to a heightened security level for this country. But we do have to be vigilant. We have to understand that this happened on our doorstep and that it happened in a location at which those who engineered it, those who planned it, would have known many Australians were present—as well as many people from different nationalities. I welcome the indication from the Prime Minister in relation to the counter-terrorism capacity.

I also remain open to his suggestion in relation to the antiterrorist legislation but I know that, because of the cooperation on both sides of the House, we did finally get strong antiterrorism legislation through this place some months ago. I note that, in the Prime Minister's address to the National Press Club on the anniversary of September 11, he considered that we had got the balance right. I still am of that view but, in the spirit of dealing with this situation and in the circumstances we face, I am prepared to look again with the opposition at proposals the Prime Minister might want to put forward. However, I believe it is critical in this that we are targeting the terrorists and only the terrorists and that we are not exposing innocent people to unnecessary scrutiny.

There are some other issues I would ask that the Prime Minister take on board, because it is true that the people who were responsible for this need to be brought to justice. It is a threat that cannot go unchecked and unchallenged. I welcome the fact that both Australian Federal Police officers and ASIO officers have gone to Bali to assist the Indonesians with their investigation, and I welcome the fact that the government is sending two ministers to Bali as well as to Jakarta to talk further with the Indonesians. No stone can be left unturned in hunting down the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice. That will not happen just by us calling for it. Australians must give the toughest response possible. As a fundamental first step, Australia and Indonesia must join together in the common fight against terrorism. I noted, Mr Prime Minister, from your discussions with me yesterday, that you had spoken with President Megawati of Indonesia and that Indonesia has agreed to work with us at every level. I welcome that. But fighting terrorism will require a comprehensive and coordinated approach across the entire South-East Asian region.

We have noted your comments on what needs to be done now with our regional partners, and we support them. But, as you undertake these steps, as your foreign minister visits Jakarta, we would ask you to consider another idea as well. We in this country have supported for more than a year now the global campaign against terrorism. We have stood united on that, we have endorsed it in this House and we have supported legislation. It is right that we have done so, because it is a common humanity that we have to defend. The challenge of terrorism lies within our immediate region, and the events in Bali demonstrate just how close it is. Both the region and the international community will be looking to Australia this time for leadership, because this is our part of the world.

Given the gravity of what we have seen over the last 24 hours, could we suggest in a bipartisan spirit that you initiate a regional summit on the elimination of terrorism in South-East Asia. In our view, it would be appropriate that such a summit be convened at a heads of government level in the region itself and that it include the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore. Its first brief should be to establish how our governments can work together to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the most recent barbaric act, in Bali. Beyond that immediate task, a second function of such a summit should be to establish the regional institutional machinery necessary for the ongoing campaign against terrorism in our region. It will not be done with a single meeting; it will not be done as a consequence of any single statement of regional leaders. But it will be done if our governments are prepared to work together with absolute determination and to be united in the immediate period ahead, in the aftermath of the events in Bali. A regional summit on terrorism could help to bring to justice those responsible in Bali and could develop a strategy for our region to combat terrorism as well.

The most effective form of prevention is having good intelligence about the terrorists and their operations. One of the lessons of this horrific event is that Australia will need the best available intelligence on terrorist groups in the region. I have noted your comments—comments we have had expressed to us in other quarters—about the concern at terrorist groups operating in Indonesia and about sufficient attention not being paid to them. We need to redouble the efforts as a consequence of this.

Indonesia now knows it has terrorist groups operating in its territory. We know the consequences of the way they operate—only too graphically and tragically with the events in the last 36 hours—but we also know that our intelligence capacity is first-rate and that it stands ready to work, assist and cooperate with similar organisations in other countries. It is a difficult and dangerous business, but more and more these events demonstrate how absolutely necessary intelligence is for our security. Information on those groups needs to be gathered often and will be fragmentary and unclear. We know that ASIO and other Australian agencies have already received increased funding for those purposes, but we believe more work may be needed to make sure that everything that can be done and is being done.

So, Prime Minister, on this very sad return of the parliament whereby we all return with heavy hearts because of the magnitude of the problem, it is a day for expressing our grief and sympathy for the families of the victims involved. It is our commitment to them and their loved ones to do everything we can not just to assist the return of the injured and the identification of the victims but to ensure together that the perpetrators of this are brought to justice and that we stiffen our resolve to fight terrorism in our region. It is not appropriate just to express the grief without saying to those families that we have learnt from this. It is a timely reminder which demonstrates the vulnerability of a nation which has prided itself on its easygoing nature and its ability to move freely—a nation that in the course of the last 36 hours has become all too concerned about, and must become concerned about, its vulnerability.

Unless we as a parliament are saying to these people that we are committed, we understand their concern and we are prepared to work together, I think we let them down again. They are already suffering enough at the moment. I think we have got to give them hope that as a parliament in a united, bipartisan way we will not just do everything possible to track down the perpetrators of this dreadful action but that we will resolve to strengthen our fight against terrorism and make the region safe again. A coalition was formed as a consequence of September 11; I believe a similar coalition needs to be built again in the context of October 12 this year. It is our region. Australia needs to take a leading role, and the opposition stands prepared to work with your government to achieve that outcome.

I express in conclusion my heartfelt sympathies on behalf of all of us in this parliament, but in particular from the Labor Party, to the families who are grieving so terribly at the moment. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. If we can assist in any way in helping them find out further information, we stand ready to do to. The fact that the parliament today has suspended its normal proceedings to carry this resolution is a demonstration of how seriously we as a nation treat it. But it is a seriousness that goes beyond the events of Saturday night—it is a seriousness that goes to our future, our security and our living in peace with our neighbours. That will happen only if we resolve collectively to fight terrorism, to do it together. We on this side of the House stand ready to work with the government to achieve that objective.

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