Page 366 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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The cowardly act which caused Adam Dunning’s death should not be allowed to overshadow the worthiness of the work that Adam and other Australian peacekeepers were and are still performing in the Solomons. This work has led to a much more peaceful Solomon Islands, which is of great benefit to its people and to the Pacific region as a whole.

We should also remember the many other Canberra families who currently have loved ones overseas. We pray that the tragic circumstances that have impacted so greatly on the Dunning family touch no other families; that members of our community return safely.

I would like to conclude by again offering my condolences to Michael, Christine, Sarah and Emma Dunning, to Elise Wiscombe and to all of Adam Dunning’s friends, relatives and colleagues. His contribution will not be forgotten.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo): I also want to support the condolence motion for Adam Dunning but I do not wish to repeat any of the things that have been already said today. I have really appreciated the opportunity to hear about Adam’s life, because I did not know him. I just want to say that when somebody dies, especially a young person, we look for reasons why. In this case, it was such a random event and there was no reason why it was Adam.

I want to put it in the context of the fact that the Solomon Islands people are on the whole deeply grateful for Australia’s work there and for RAMSI’s work. There have been a couple of surveys: one six months ago, which showed an approval rating of 94 per cent just after the troops landed, and another six months later when this approval rating had decreased a little but still remained high.

We think about what it is that makes somebody turn on someone whose intentions are so good and who is just about to bring peace to that very troubled place which did need outside intervention to help it solve its problems. I just want to read one very short excerpt from an article written by John Roughan, who belongs to the Solomon Islands Development Trust, when he reflected on the death of Adam:

The death of Adam Dunning, the Australian Federal Policeman gunned down last week in East Honiara while on an early morning routine patrol, cries out for explanation. … Authorities are now asking why has this happened? With almost 18 months of peaceful transition under its belt, the country seemed like it was quietly but surely on the road to recovery.

Thousands of guns had been collected, some of the country’s worst criminals were securely held behind steel bars and people were enjoying a peace that they once enjoyed.

He goes on to say that over the 18 months some people have, however, seen their daily grind change very little. They have seen the costs of many of the items they need for living rise. Nonetheless, most Solomon Islanders are still watching the elites of their country doing extremely well, as they did before the intervention of RAMSI, and, although they would not turn up their noses at the development parity of those elites, they would gladly trade their back teeth for a little bit of the basic life—peace, peace and more peace, progress in education, working clinics, strong local markets, adequate

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