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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (12 November) . . Page.. 3399 ..

Tuesday, 12 November 2002

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional owners and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Bali-terrorist bombings

MR STANHOPE: (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women): I move:

That the Assembly expresses its profound sorrow at the devastating loss of life from the terrorist bombings in Bali, and tenders its heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and to all those touched by this senseless tragedy.

Mr Speaker, like all Australians I experienced a range of emotions on hearing about the terrorist attack on Bali. Shock, anger, futility, grief. And heartbreak-heartbreak that so many innocent Australians could be killed as they enjoyed themselves while on holiday, like so many Australians had done before them. This terrible event is an atrocity Australians will remember as amongst the saddest chapters of our nation's history.

I cannot begin to imagine what the families of the victims are going through but I can tell them they are not alone in their grief. On behalf of myself, this Assembly and the people of the ACT, I would like to express my deepest and most sincere condolences to everyone. The horrible truth is that there are too many victims to mention here-not only Australians but Balinese, Britons and others.

Mr Speaker, stories of immense sadness have emerged in the aftermath of the attack on Bali: stories of lives cut short; stories of sons and daughters lost, and children orphaned. But there have also been remarkable stories of heroism and dedication to helping others. The tragedy in Bali has reminded us of Australia's untiring strength in times of diversity, our compassion and our unwavering commitment to mateship.

I am thinking of people such as Hannabeth Luke, who ran back into the blaze to help others escape, even though she had been injured herself. Mr Speaker, it is true that the Bali tragedy has changed us; it has changed our perception of the world and our place in it. But I hope it does not change us too much.

The Australian recently published a cartoon by Peter Nicholson, which showed two Australian travellers removing the flags from their backpacks, which they had displayed to make sure that no-one mistook them for Americans. Mr Speaker, displaying the Australian flag is a common practice among backpackers. Behind it, I think, is the assumption that we Australians are well liked wherever we go. Peter Nicholson's cartoon was a sad reflection on the state of affairs in the world today. But the hateful actions of a few terrorists will never change our essential character.

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