Transcript of Press Conference - Bali
FRI 12 OCTOBER 2012
Subject(s): 10th Anniversary Bali Memorial Service
PRIME MINISTER: I’ve had the absolute honour today of attending the Bali Memorial Service here in Bali. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to family and friends since the service. They are gathered here now.
There are tears in the room, there’s hugs in the room, there’s lots of reflections about everything that we’ve lost.
There’s also a lot of looking forward too. People who are talking about how their lives have continued after the losses they’ve sustained.
Everybody I’ve spoken to has been very appreciative about being here today. It’s helped them grieve and remember. It’s helped them reflect on the events the past. It’s helped them renew some friendships that were made at the time. It’s helped them too say thank you to many of the Indonesian people who helped so much during such a critical time of need.
People are at all different stages of grieving and loss. For some of the emotion you can tell is incredibly raw still. Others who were very, very young kids who lost parents very young at the time, sharing their reflections too, and talking about where their lives are up to today.
So, it’s a really mixed picture of how people have got on with their lives and how they’re experiencing grief today.
But it’s been an incredible privilege to just have this opportunity to spend some time and talk to some of the victims and family members and those who did so much during our critical time of need.
I’m happy to take questions just on this matter and then I’ll go back inside and spend some more time with the families.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the site of the Sari Club at the moment is effectively a disused lot that gets used as a makeshift car park. Indonesia has the power to take control of that property and turn it into a park or memorial but it hasn’t used that power. What would you like to see done with the site.
PRIME MINISTER: The Governor here in Bali has said he is very supportive of seeing this site used for an ongoing memorial. As a Government, we‘ve been very supportive too; we’ve got money available to assist. A number of State Governments have also stepped up to provide money too.
So we’re in a difficult situation at the moment. The land is privately owned, but I would hope that we can see this matter resolved and we can see a proper memorial on the site. I do understand why it distresses people to see it in the condition that it is now.
JOURNALIST: The owner of the property wants about seven or eight million dollars. Would Australia consider putting some money towards buying the site so there’s a permanent memorial there forever?
PRIME MINISTER: We have said that we would make some money available so that the site can be secured. There is some real disputation about the value of the site and the price that’s being asked and that’s why there’s been this sense of gridlock around it.
But I do want to see that site used as a permanent memorial.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, would you make the question of the site something that you would raise in bilateral visits with senior ministers in Indonesia?
PRIME MINISTER: The appropriate level of government is the Governor here in Bali. So of course, we will continue the dialogue with him.
JOURNALIST: The President is not here today. Was he invited here? Is there a reason why he’s not here?
PRIME MINISTER: There was never an expectation the President was going to be here today. We did ask for the Indonesian Government to be represented.
And they were represented by their Minister for Foreign Affairs, who spoke so eloquently about everything that we had been through as two nations and the fact that these events which could really have driven us apart actually brought us closer together.
JOURNALIST: But was he invited?
PRIME MINISTER: We asked for a representative of the Indonesian Government. There was never an expectation that the President was going to be here today.
But I think we should note just how much care and trouble our Indonesian friends have taken to facilitate Australians travelling here today and to facilitate the Memorial Service.
So there’s been a lot of spirit of partnership and goodwill and cooperation. And we do need to remember this is a day of memory for Indonesians too. They lost a large number of their people. There was a huge impact on this place. This is beautiful tourist paradise, but for a long period of time, people suffered because tourists weren’t coming.
So this is a day of reflection for Indonesian people who are familiar with these events and so many of them on the night in question and in the days afterwards did extraordinary things to help Australians out.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, in your speech you mentioned the spirit of Australia being partly here in Bali and you also likened it to ANZAC, sorry to Gallipoli. Where in that kind of history does it hold a place for Australians?
PRIME MINISTER: I think it’s one of those places in the world where we feel as Australians we’ve got a special connection.
Around 900,000 Australians will visit Bali in the next 12 months and that’s an extraordinary number when you stop and think about it for a nation that’s just over 22 million people; 900,000 Australians will visit here.
You know from your own family and friends, from your own lifetime experience, that so many Australians have visited here. So many Australians have fallen in love with it. For many young Australians, it’s the first time they ever step overseas; they go to Bali.
So I think we feel a sense of connection which means the Australian spirit is here.
It’s incredibly different to Gallipoli where obviously we grieve for everything that was lost and where the spirit of ANZAC was born, something so pivotal to our national character and how we describe ourselves and feel about ourselves. But this is somewhere where we feel a real connection and that’s why I refer to it as one of those places with a spirit of Australia in my speech.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, we heard during the ceremony a lot of talk about what could have happened between Indonesia and Australia; the tension. Can you talk to us a little about the sort of the relationship the countries have now?
PRIME MINISTER: I certainly can. We’ve got an incredibly strong friendship with Indonesia and it spans government to government links which are very, very strong; business to business links; people to people links, including those hundreds of thousands Australians who come to this place.
And so at every level, our relationship with Indonesia is a very strong one and I think when we reflect back on this event, you can easily imagine a different past. You can image such a searing event driving us apart, but it actually brought us together.
And it is a good day to reflect on how Indonesia continued its journey into democracy, how Indonesia strengthened its counter terrorism capabilities, how Indonesia worked with Australian police, how they hunted down and dismantled the terrorist network that brought this hateful crime, and how the bonds between us have strengthened as result.
So out of an event of such tragedy, there are some things that have come in our relationship with Indonesia which we would all rightfully admire and very, very much value.
JOURNALIST: How much safer is it for Australians travelling to Indonesia today?
PRIME MINISTER: You’ve always got to be vigilant, but we’ve taken the step in the relatively recent past of reducing our travel warning for here in Bali and in Indonesia.
But you’ve always got to be vigilant. Global terror has been dealt a series of blows including here in Indonesia with what has been done to hit JI and to hit it hard, including what has been done around the world to hit Al Qaida and hit it hard, including the death of Osama Bin Laden.
So a lot has been done to hit back at global terrorism, but we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of believing that global terrorism is dead. As long as there is anyone who is prepared to engage in a hateful act of violence against innocence, then we need to be vigilant about terrorism. And of course, we are.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you refer to the spirit of Australia being in Bali. Is there a spirit of the young Julia Gillard here? Did you come to Bali in your younger years?
PRIME MINISTER: I didn’t come here as a teenager or a young adult in the sense that so many young Australians do. I’ve travelled here twice privately. Both times have been family holidays.
I came here with my sister and niece and nephew. And then I came here with my sister and nephew and a mate of his.
We were actually here in the lead up, we returned to Australia on the Friday and then the events of the weekend unfolded. So it was very sharp for us because we literally had got back home and you were still dealing with the dirty washing out of the suitcase when the news came through, and you could just imagine yourself being in that streetscape.
Now given it was a family holiday, we weren’t attendees at nightclubs, we were travelling with some teenage boys so we were doing family activities. But you could very much visualise exactly where this had happened.
I spend a lot of time, I can remember ringing my sister and just talking it through as the news just kept coming through, because we’d just been here, we’d just been here.
Thank you very much. Sorry, we’ll take some questions from the Indonesian media.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, this is the last commemoration (inaudible)?
PRIME MINISTER: We haven’t made any decisions about future commemorations. Save this, I do believe it is important that when we reach the ten years of the second Bali bombing, that we have those families who lost loved ones and the people who were injured offered a similar opportunity to come and to mark the ten years.
For me, the decisions beyond that depend on discussions with the survivors, discussions with their families.
People are at different stages of grieving and there were some who were saying to me, this is closure this will be the last time I come for this purpose of saying goodbye to my loved one, or reflecting on my injury and what happened as I fled out of the bombing site.
For some, that I’ve met, this if the first time they’ve been able to come; that all those years in between it was too much, too hard, too painful, too soon. And it’s taken them to the ten-year mark before they could even imagine being back in this landscape and back walking the streets and back in the moment.
So I think we’re just going to have to judge in the future how we best assist Australians with grieving and healing. And every step of the way, we’ll be talking to our friends in Indonesia.
Thank you very much.