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Senator Hill's Speech To The Senate – Bali Bombing

Monday 14 October 02 MIN 554/02

TRANSCRIPT

Speech to the Senate

2:00pm, Monday 14 October 2002

Mr President, I move the Senate:

* Expresses its outrage and condemnation of the barbaric terrorist bombings which took place in Bali on the 12th of October 2002.

* Extend its deepest and heartfelt sympathy to families and loved ones of those Australians killed, missing or injured in this brutal and despicable attack.

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

* Four, condemns those who employ terror and indiscriminate violence against innocent people.

* Five, commits the Australian Government to working 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.

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

Mr President, it is little more than 12 months since the Senate joined together to pass a motion condemning the horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon.

Even with the passing of time it's still impossible to make any sense of those brutal and inhumane attacks.

Australia must now confront the reality of an attack in our own region that is just as vicious, evil, and senseless - an attack which has claimed around 180 lives, many of whom, we fear, will be Australians.

As this Senate meets, many Australian families are already grieving over the loss of their loved ones.

Others will be praying for family members who were seriously injured in the explosions and are now being cared for in hospitals in Denpasar and Darwin.

Even more are waiting anxiously for news of family members still unaccounted for in the wake of the explosion.

This is the reality of the tragedy that is unfolding for these families, their friends and their communities.

This is the reality of the human tragedy that is unfolding for our nation.

As a nation, we offer our deepest sympathies to the families who have lost family members in this senseless attack.

We also give our support and compassion to those families uncertain of their loved ones whereabouts and safety. And, of course, we have provided immediate assistance to those who suffered serious injuries, many of whom have now been airlifted to Australia.

I thought, Mr President, I should provide some detail to the Senate of the events as we understand them and the responses that have been made.

Three explosions occurred on Saturday night.

The main explosion was at the Sari nightclub at Kuta Beach at 11.05pm.

Two minor explosions also occurred about the same time at the Philippines Consulate in Manado Northern Sulawesi and near the US Consulate in Bali. Reports of casualties from the main explosion are over 180 deaths and about 300 injured. 113 injured Australians were hospitalised. As of some little time ago 14 Australians were confirmed dead.

The Indonesian authorities are treating the explosions as terrorist attacks. Indonesian authorities believe that the principle explosion was caused by a large car bomb.

In relation to the Australian domestic response - as the explosions took place outside Australia, the Minister for Foreign Affairs has primary responsibility and early yesterday morning DFAT formed an inter-departmental emergency task force which met a number of times yesterday.

It included not only the consular authorities but Defence, other relevant departmental agencies - including Emergency Management Australia which is coordinating the reception of injured Australians in Darwin and the Protective Security Coordination Centre which held an emergency meeting of the Special Incident Task Force which looks to such issues as current threat assessment.

The current counter terrorism alert for Australia remains at Special CT risk which was the risk since September the 11th, 2001. The threat to Australian interests in Indonesia remains unchanged and high and other regional threats, as a result of those meetings, remain unchanged.

There is in Bali now a joint AFP and ASIO team to assist with the investigation, comprising some three ASIO Officers and 12 AFP Officers including specialists in investigations, disaster victim identification, intelligence and forensics.

The team has received cooperation and support from the Indonesian Government.

In relation to the evacuation, four C130 aircraft and associated aero-medical evacuation teams have been deployed from RAAF Richmond to assist with the evacuations and these aircraft are conducting continuous shuttles between Darwin and Bali.

A fifth aircraft will launch about now, carrying urgently needed additional medical supplies.

There have been three sorties from Denpasar overnight and this morning. 15 casualties were transported to Darwin on the first aircraft. 22 casualties - sadly one died en route - 22 casualties on the second aircraft. 15 casualties on the third aircraft including 8 Australian citizens and foreign nations and one South African, one Swedish national, three Germans and two New Zealanders.

One further C130 task is in progress conducting another evacuation today.

Two aircraft will shortly be re-tasked to move injured personnel from Darwin to southern capitals burns units to relieve strain on the Darwin hospital facilities. And I think some civilians support - I saw a reference to the South Australian government offering aircraft for that purpose as well.

One P3 aircraft was deployed yesterday, Mr President, to take consular officials together with the ASIO staff and the AFP personnel and some other necessary personnel to Denpasar.

The ADF also has provided two ambulances to Bali where they are being used to ferry casualties from the Bali hospitals to the aircraft for loading on to the aircraft.

It's provided medical teams including reserve members to assist in patient care, prioritisation, coordinate transfer of casualties. They have facilities both at the hospital in Denpasar and facilities now at the airport as well. Mr President, I think in terms of the domestic response and in particular the very professional and prompt response from officials - whether they be consular, AFP, Defence officials, or others concerned - they have done Australia proud in this instance and we're particularly proud of their efforts.

We also would like to make specific mention of the many offers of support and help that we've received from overseas.

>From the United States, from Britain which is sending investigative officers as well. From New Zealand which has offered a C130 - which offer we have accepted and that aircraft will be in Australia later today. It will then be deployed on to Darwin and to be used as necessary and from other countries as well.

The sentiments of support and practical offers of assistance are very much appreciated.

Mr President, the Government's National Security Committee of Cabinet met this morning.

It's decided on a number of things, but in particular Mr Downer as Foreign Minister and Senator Ellison as Justice Minister will travel to Indonesia either later tonight or early tomorrow morning. Firstly to Bali to express our sympathy and support for those who are injured and remain there and their families, and then on to Jakarta where they will be offering further assistance and support to the Indonesian Government in its efforts to find those that who have been guilty of this horrendous crime.

Cabinet has also decided to review domestic security arrangements, not withstanding the very significant increases that have been put in place over the last 12 months, including as all Senators will recall doubling our counter terrorism capability, putting in place a capability to address chemical, biological and radiological weapons, increasing domestic security at strategic installations and in airports and on aircraft and the like.

But nevertheless, in the current circumstances Cabinet believes that it is again necessary to look at the precautions that we're taking, including the legislative reform that we recently undertook to ensure that it is adequate to meet these very difficult sets of circumstances.

Mr President, this weekend's attacks are an horrific reminder that we do live in a changed world.

They are a reminder that we ignore the threat of terrorism at our own peril.

Since the attacks in the United States last year, our Government has worked to ensure that Australia is as ready as possible to prevent or to respond to a domestic terrorist attack.

We have made no secret of the fact that terrorists can strike anywhere, at any time and that our nation and its citizens are not immune from the tragic consequences of such attacks.

We have invested heavily in our domestic agencies and as I said moved to strengthen our laws to give those agencies the powers they need to hunt down terrorists.

We have responded internationally through our participation in the global coalition of nations who are committed to confronting terrorism at its source.

We must now make a commitment that the senseless and brutal attacks we witnessed in Bali will not cower our nation.

We must stand firm in our resolve to bring about an end to the threats of terrorism, wherever it lurks.

Mr President, the weekend bombing of innocent civilians in Bali has outraged our nation and outraged the world.

We condemn this act of a barbarity in the strongest possible terms.

To the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy, again we extend our sympathies and commit our nation to ensuring that those who are responsible for this horrendous crime are tracked down and are punished for this senseless loss of life.

ENDS

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE LEADER OF THE GOVERNMENT IN THE SENATE SENATOR THE HON. ROBERT HILL


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