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John Howard's Address To Bali Memorial Service

October 17, 2002

This is the transcript of the address to the memorial service at the Australian Consulate in Bali by the Prime Minister, John Howard.


John Howard, Prime Minister As the sun sets over this beautiful island, we gather here in sorrow, in anguish, in disbelief and in pain. There are no words that I can summon to solve in any way the hurt and the suffering and the pain being felt by so many of my fellow countrymen and women and by so many of the citizens of other nations. I can say though to my Australian countrymen and women that there are 19.5 million Australians who are trying, however inadequately, to feel for you and to support you at this time of unbearable grief and pain.

The wanton, cruel, barbaric character of what occurred here last Saturday night has shocked our nation to the core. I know the anguish that so many are feeling, the painful process of identification which has prolonged that agony for so many, the sense of bewilderment and disbelief that so many young lives with so much before them should have been taken away in such blind fury, hatred and violence. I can on behalf of all of the people of Australia declare to you that we will do everything in our power to bring to justice those who were responsible for this foul deed. We will work with our friends in Indonesia to do that and we will work to others to achieve an outcome of justice.

Can I say to our Balinese friends, the lovely people of Bali, who have been befriended over the decades and the generations by so many Australians who have come here, we grieve with you, we feel for you, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the love and support that you have extended to our fellow countrymen and women over these past days.

As the Chaplain said, there will be scars left on people for the rest of their life, both physical and emotional. Our nation has been changed by this event. Perhaps we may not be so carefree as we have been in the past, but we will never lose our openness, our sense of adventure. The young of Australia will always travel. They will always seek fun in distant parts. They will always reach out to the young of other nations. They will always be open, fun-loving, decent men and women.

And so as we grapple inadequately and in despair to try to comprehend what has happened, let us gather ourselves around each other, let us wrap our arms around not only our fellow Australians but our arms around the people of Indonesia, of Bali, let us wrap our arms around the people of other nations and the friends and relatives of the nationals of other countries who have died in this horrible event. It will take a long time for these foul deeds to be seen in any kind of context. They can never be understood. They can never be excused. Australia has been affected very deeply, but the Australian spirit has not been broken. The Australian spirit will remain strong and free and open and tolerant. I know that is what all of those who lost their lives would have wanted and I know it is what all of those who grieve for them would want.

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