Television Interview - ABC News Breakfast

12 Oct 2022
Prime Minister
Anniversary of the Bali bombings; Early release of Umar Patek; Australian support for Ukraine

MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: The memorial services are being held in Bali and around Australia to remember the 202 people killed in the Bali bombings 20 years ago today - 88 of them were, of course, Australians. The Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, will be attending a commemoration at Coogee Beach at Sydney and he joins now from there. Prime Minister, good morning to you.


ROWLAND: A solemn day for each and every Australian but a particularly painful day for family and friends of those 88 Australians who died. What's your message to them?

PRIME MINISTER: It will be a really tough day. Today's a day to once again commemorate the loss of 88 Australians and it will be difficult. Our heart goes out to the family and friends of those who lost their lives on that fateful day 20 years ago, when the shock waves from that terror act in Bali rolled on to our shores, and they had an impact, of course, on every single Australian who woke up to this horrific news. But, of course, for so many people, including the families of the Coogee Dolphins, members who will be here with us today, it will be particularly difficult for them.

ROWLAND: Indeed. Each and every loss of life and injury was awful, but the impact on that rugby league club really continues to this day, doesn't it?

PRIME MINISTER: Oh absolutely, and it says something about why I think this was well beyond, you know, the horrific numbers of 88 lives. Bali is a place where Australians for generations have gone with a sense of joy and fun and engagement with each other, engagement with people from all around the world. The hospitality of the Balinese on show has attracted Australians to Bali and the last thing that would be on anyone's mind is that it was a dangerous place. And to have this horrific act, 88 Australians lose their lives, of the 202 global citizens who lost their lives in that horrific terror attack, really shocked people and those shock waves continue to reverberate today. In my own electorate, the Dulwich Newtown Basketball Club lost members, Debbie and Abbey Borgia, a young mum with her very young daughter, the youngest Australian who lost their lives in that terror attack. They're commemorated in the Police and Citizens Club down on Illawarra Road, Marrickville, the Debbie and Abbey Borgia Centre, because communities right around the country were impacted by this. That's why it's important that we continue to honour those who lost their lives, and we'll be doing that here today, but continue as well to celebrate the fact that Australians weren't cowered by this cowardly act. Australians united as a nation and recommit ourselves to fight against terrorism and extremism wherever we find it.

ROWLAND: Umar Patek, the Bali bombmaker, is slated for early release and we know the Australian Government through you has been pushing back on that. He's still in jail. The Nine newspapers this morning have an interview with Indonesia's anti-terror chief in which he describes Umar Patek as a reformed individual and he says we should not hold grudges 20 years on. What are your thoughts on that?

PRIME MINISTER: Very difficult comments for the families of the victims here to accept, and I find it difficult to accept, which is why the Australian Government will continue to make representations conveying the thoughts of the Australian people.

ROWLAND: Speak of atrocities, moving to another issue, I'm sure every viewer would have been appalled by what we’ve seen happening in Ukraine in recent days with the shelling of Kyiv and other cities in that country. We know Ukraine's leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, spoke to you overnight. He urged Australia to provide more security assistance to his country. Will you, and what form will that take?

PRIME MINISTER: We'll give consideration to the request from President Zelenskyy. I conveyed to him the condolences of the Australian people for the loss of civilian life from the appalling attacks by Russia, targeting civilians in Kyiv and in other cities around Ukraine. The struggle of the people of Ukraine isn't just about its own sovereign borders. It's a struggle for the international rule of law, for the United Nations processes to be allowed to take place, for the recognition of sovereign borders. We would have thought that a land war in Europe was something that was something of the past. But Russia continues to engage in these aggressive acts. We'll continue to provide support. We are the largest non-NATO contributor. This has been something that has had bipartisan support, both before the election and afterwards, and we will have consideration of the requests that have been put forward by President Zelenskyy last night, and I'll make an announcement at an appropriate time about that. But we are resolved, as is the rest of the democratic world, to stand with the people of Ukraine in this struggle.

ROWLAND: Could that support extend to Australian troops going over there to help train Ukrainian forces?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the suggestion isn't going into Ukraine. The suggestion is whether Australians could provide support for training outside of Ukraine in Europe, and we'll give consideration to that as we'll give consideration to the other requests. President Zelenskyy asked for me to convey the thanks of him and the Ukrainian people for the Australian Bushmasters, for the other support that Australia has given up to now. President Zelenskyy is a remarkable leader. He's humble, he's someone who's absolutely determined. His passion for defending his nation is, I think, quite extraordinary under this unbelievable pressure, and that is why I personally visited Ukraine and met with President Zelenskyy to convey that. But having been on the ground in Kyiv, it is very clear that the Ukrainian people are absolutely determined to defend their national sovereignty, and that should be an inspiration for all of us.

ROWLAND: Prime Minister, at the site of the Bali Coogee memorial today, a very sad, very solemn day for many Australians. Really appreciate you making the time for us this morning. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, Michael.