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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (12 November) . . Page.. 3402 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

The contribution of air force personnel, who mobilised very quickly, the medical fraternity, emergency services in Denpasar, Indonesian and other officials is, I think, quite exemplary, and we should be very grateful for the compassion shown in those circumstances.

Obviously, the innocence of Australia has, to some extent, been affected by this. We talk about global community, we talk about globalisation: it seems to be making the world more immediately responsive to each of its components. Of course, that also means the lunatic fringe of our world is not very far away. In the 21st century our sense of isolation, whether you believe it is imposed or facilitated, is under threat. The tyranny of distance, which we believed for so long cocooned, isolated or insulated Australia, is waning. We are no longer safe simply because we are far away from the supposed trouble spots of other parts of the world.

Canberrans must be aware of their own vulnerability in this changed landscape. If Australian nationals could be a target, so too could Australia itself. It is not making too fine a point to observe that many of the nation's institutions and monuments reside within this city's boundaries; embassies hosting our friends and neighbours are within our suburbs; the nation's security and defence agencies all have their headquarters here in the Australian Capital Territory. Many of our local community work in these environs and we must remain aware and mindful of our position.

Greater vigilance is obviously required and I am sure that message is not lost on Australians. But I think, above all, we must retain a sense of who we are and what kind of community we are today; that we must retain a sense of not having lost that part of us which perhaps would have been targeted in those explosions a month ago. In that sense, Mr Speaker, we have a task ahead of us to respond to this tragedy with dignity and intelligence, and that remains, perhaps, the greatest task facing us as a community today.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections): I would like to add my own personal condolences. I think there are two levels of personal reaction. On one level there is the immediate: "What if it was one of my family? What if it was one of my kids?"Let me say that I have a son who has played football and travelled with his mates. I have had some personal relationship not only with families who have lost a loved one but with groups, communities, from which a number of young people have lost their lives.

But on another level, it is difficult to imagine the depth of grief. An event like this where there is loss of life brings immense grief to families. But even worse is a situation where the family member can't be found or hasn't been identified. So compounding the grief is that nagging thought that maybe, just maybe, my particular son, brother, daughter is still alive and maybe we will discover that. There is a personal need for the matter to be closed, for those families to know for certain that they have lost a loved one. I don't think there can be any greater grief than that, to having not only the loss but not knowing precisely what happened to the individual.

I recall that some years ago one of the programs in a Phillip Adams TV series was devoted to the subject of death. He spoke about how numbers as well as proximity of death combined to impact upon us; that a death in the family has a marked impact but

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