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To the Victims of Bali

March 31, 2011

The memorial service for the victims at Coogee

An excerpt from my speech to the NSW Parliament October 22, 2002:

…Think of the Balinese people who by this tragedy have not only lost loved ones but also lost an economy and perhaps a way of life.

They were poor to start with and they are poorer now, their suffering just beginning. 

Let us resolve here and now when we can, when our immediate duties are fulfilled, to remember those Balinese mates of ours.

This morning I visited the burns unit at Concord hospital. I witnessed the bravery and good cheer of people nursing their wounds and thinking of, or perhaps fearing for, their future—a future perhaps without a wife, perhaps without a mum.

In the case of Ross McKeon, an electrician originally from Maroubra and now from Kincumber—McKeon is a famous name in Maroubra; there is a street named after the family—he is thinking of a future without a wife and without one of his daughters.

His great motivation now is to look after his younger daughter, who survived.

I feel honoured to have been there this morning with these survivors, hearing their grief, moved by their strength…

 

…Criminals did this, and they will be found and punished.

They did it not only to us and the holidaying secular, democratic West but also to the mple human quest for happiness.

Terror is what terrorism does, striking with cunning randomness, always unexpectedly.

In this case it was terror directed by a totalitarian hijacking of a great religious faith, terror that leaves no country, town or family safe from a sudden flash, a roar, a rage of darkness and oblivion, and grief that is everlasting.

In the end terror can only be fought with military strength and, above all, by a better idea—a better way of engaging the minds of embittered and rancorous youth in regions of fanaticism and local tyranny and sectarian schism.

We must use this dreadful hour of pain to show with spirit and eloquence what kind of people we are and why at the Olympic Games we were so esteemed by the watching world.

For a while we must count the dead, sing sad songs of loss, say the names and count the cost.

But after that there is the task of raising again our spirits to that laconic pride and humour and sense of possibility that show what we Australians are made of and why it can never be undone.

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