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INDONESIA: TERRORIST ATTACKS

Mr CADMAN (Mitchell) (12.18 p.m.) —On 9 October this year the Prime Minister of Australia moved a motion expressing concern, regrets and sympathy for, firstly, the victims who lost their lives in the horrific terrorist attack on 12 October 2002.

Eighty-eight Australians were killed. The motion also offered continuing support and compassion for those who had survived the event and were still suffering from the damage done by the bombs in Bali, sympathy for those families who had lost loved ones, and sympathy for the people and the governments of Indonesia and the other nations who lost loved ones in the horrific Bali attack.

The motion expresses the appreciation of all Australians to the volunteers who rushed to lend aid at that time. The motion expresses gratitude to the Indonesian government and authorities for their cooperation, their support and their active pursuit of those who perpetrated this horrendous crime. We are reiterating today, across all political boundaries, the condemnation of those who employ terror and indiscriminate violence against innocent people. We reaffirm Australia's commitment to continue to fight against terrorism in our region and in the rest of the world.

The events were tragic for many families. I have none in my electorate, but I know of many, and it has been an awful experience for them. The footballer Craig Salvatori felt such intense pain at the loss of his wife that he established a fund of his own when the Australian Red Cross appeared to be so slow to move and so incapable of getting aid to people in need of urgent assistance. Craig and his friends in the Italian community of Sydney have had amazing results, with hundreds of thousands of dollars quickly raised at functions to give support to those who have suffered loss of some sort.

That ache and pain of families goes on. It is the same when you lose a loved one in a motor accident or through any other unexpected cause. At the time, the intensity of the situation brings energy and adrenaline to the fore. You get into the urgency of the incident and you do things that have to be done. But I believe the poignancy, the hurt and the loss are stronger one year later, when you think about what could have been done, what has been bypassed and what has been missed out in the previous year. So this is a poignant occasion.

I had the opportunity of attending the remembrance service held at the war memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney, last weekend. People who had been involved and friends and relatives of those who had been involved were there. There was a large attendance by members of the Coptic congregation, including Bishop Daniel. Being Egyptian, they had borne the brunt of fundamentalist Islam on many occasions, with many people being killed, churches being burnt with people inside and all that sort of thing. But the message from Bishop Daniel was strong and opposed the activity of terrorism. He said that we will not beat this by using the same techniques; we will beat it by expressing love and compassion and understanding. We will beat it by being very determined that we will not be put down. We will stand against it and we will not give an inch on the things that we as a nation believe in. We will hold strongly to our values and traditions but will not do it in a militant, aggressive manner, nor by using the same techniques as those who seek to destroy what we stand for. [start page 21594]

The Balinese people have suffered. They have suffered economically; they have lost people and they have lost jobs. I think it has been wonderful to see their compassionate support for Australian families. One cannot but be impressed by the way in which that terrible incident has brought the two nations together. There has been a great expression of sympathy and understanding across international boundaries. We have acknowledged the volunteers. Whilst we saw the quality of Australian volunteers during the Olympic Games, we saw them in Bali under stress and in demand. It was a time of intense activity. We saw the very heart and selflessness of Australian volunteers as they rushed to assist in the emergency.

We would be wrong not to acknowledge the role of the Australian Defence Force and the way in which they responded. They did not hesitate. My colleague the member for Macquarie has entered the chamber, and he knows, as I do, the urgent reaction shown by RAAF Base Richmond. Medivac services were put into operation from the terrific base hospital at Richmond—No. 3 hospital—and they flew to Bali so that victims could be brought back to Australia and given immediate specialist medical support and assistance.

The role of Jemaah Islamiah has intrigued Australians. It is a militant Islamic group that has been active in South-East Asia in seeking to establish a very strong Muslim state right throughout the region. The Jemaah Islamiah Islamic organisation was established in the 1970s by Abu Bakar Bashir, an Islamic cleric of Yemeni descent. Abu Bakar Bashir became active in the quickly developing roots of Jemaah Islamiah in the late 1940s and 1950s, and he was eager to see the development of the Islamic state throughout South-East Asia. Jemaah Islamiah was crushed in the 1960s, as an independent Indonesia moved ahead under President Suharto. Suharto had no tolerance for this group whatsoever. Though some of his ways were strange and intolerant, he was not prepared to let Abu Bakar Bashir lead the Islamic youth movement into a dominance of the region. In the 1980s, Abdullah Sungkar went to Afghanistan to participate in the Soviet-Afghan war. That laid the foundations for JI's later links with al-Qaeda, and a school founded by Sungkar and Bashir now operates in the central Javanese city of Solo. From that point, this fundamentalist group spread and dominated throughout Asia. When the group was confronted from time to time, it scattered, but with the support of petrodollars and the encouragement of al-Qaeda it has become more active and more dominant.

Some would ask why Jemaah Islamiah was not designated as a terrorist group before this incident occurred. It was only after the bomb attack in Bali that the United States and then Australia designated Jemaah Islamiah as a terrorist group. The United States and Australia were aware of the situation, and they both felt that it would not be prudent to nominate this group in the face of Indonesian public support, to some degree, for the aspirations of the group. But, immediately following the attack, first the United States and then Australia and the United Nations designated this group as a terrorist group. However, before the bombing, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines had cracked down on the group in the region. They had no doubts about the aspirations of Jemaah Islamiah. So it is good that we were able to designate this group as a terrorist group after the event. It is tragic, in some ways, that we were not a bit more thoughtful and we did not take note of Islamic nations such as Malaysia who were concerned about the activities of this group. [start page 21595]

I believe that the heart of Islam is to conquer. There are many moderate Muslims who are wonderful people, but the heart of Islam is geographic dominance. We Australians need to understand that that is its heart. Whether it is the cutting edge or the moderate, there is the intention for geographic dominance. It is a worldwide religion—so is Christianity, for that matter. One seeks to conquer the heart and the other seeks to conquer territory. That is the difference. An open, democratic society such as we have in Australia, which has been under attack—or there have been indications of its being under attack—is a very easy target for geographic dominance such as we have in the region.

My mind goes to a case that is being heard in Melbourne—one of vilification brought by some of the most skilled lawyers in the land on behalf of the Islamic Council of Australia against a Baptist pastor, Daniel Scott. The claim is that he vilified Islam by some of his preachings. That man, by the way, is a convert from Islam. He has spent many years in Bangladesh, he certainly understands the preaching of Islam and he has expressed his views in opposition. There he is in court, funded by himself and his friends, defending the right to speak out against some of those most extreme practices, against the petrodollar-paid lawyers produced by the Islamic Council.

I compare that with the occasion some years ago when El Hilaly at Sydney University condemned the Jews of Australia in the vilest of terms—using the vilest of expressions. That man was never brought to book. Nobody ever confronted him, even though he was an illegal immigrant allowed by the then Australian government to stay on in Australia and has recently been let off from carrying weapons in his vehicle, so it is reported—let off from any charges whatsoever by the New South Wales government and the New South Wales Police.

I just think it is passing strange that, on the one hand, in a society like ours we can have before the courts in Melbourne a pastor—a non-violent individual—who is experienced in the matters which he spoke about and who was not vilifying people but preaching against what he saw as some of the extremes of Islam. On the other hand, we have violent and abhorrent language expressed against individuals and, at a later stage, weapons of violence being found on a person and in his vehicle. That is a double standard. Something needs to be done to apply our laws without favour or fear and to uphold the standards and beliefs that have established this country. If we fail to do that, we run a great risk. I do not care what a person's colour or creed is. If they vilify, others they have to be either condemned or allowed to speak out. There cannot be two standards. If they are going to carry weapons, there cannot be two standards. (Time expired)

Author: Alan Cadman MP
Source: House Hansard - 15th November 2003
Release Date: 4 Nov 2003

 
 




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