Address to the national memorial service for the 20th anniversary of the Bali bombings

  • Speech, check against delivery

I begin by thanking Aunty Jude and Mary and acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunnawal people.

I wish to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and contribution to our nation, and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

I also wish to acknowledge the presence of:

the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley;

His Excellency Dr Siswo Pramono, Indonesian Ambassador to Australia

Bapak Duta Besar, atas nama pemerintah dan masyarakat Australia, izinkan saya; untuk menyampaikan sambutan yang hangat kepada bapak; dan juga untuk mengukuhkan ketangguhan, ketabahan dan kerja-sama antara kedua masyarakat kita.

[Bapak Ambassador, on behalf of the Australian Government and people, I warmly welcome you and acknowledge the strength, courage and cooperation of our two peoples]

Former Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard AC;

Senate President Sue Lines, and ministerial and parliamentary colleagues;

Ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic community;

Distinguished guests.

But most importantly, I extend a special welcome on behalf of the Australian Government to the survivors, first responders and families of victims who join us today—and acknowledge the many Australians and Indonesians gathered at ceremonies around Australia and Bali.

Twenty years have passed since that terrible night.

Twenty years since 202 lives were so callously taken, among them 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, and citizens of 20 other countries.

Twenty years since 209 more people were injured, many seriously.

Twenty years of grief, of struggle to rebuild bodies and lives.

Today we remember what was taken, what was lost, and we wonder what might have been – had they all come home.

What hopes might have been realised, what dreams might have been dreamt.

The conversations, the celebrations, even the arguments:

In that moment of cold savagery 20 years ago, the usual contours of life’s ups and downs were flattened, the bounty of life’s adventure lost.

And even after all this time, pain remains.

But ultimately, the terrorists failed.

Because while an act of terror might shake us, it cannot change us.

Those who attacked us wanted to divide Australia and Indonesia.

To shatter the bonds between two great democracies painstakingly built on multifaith, multicultural foundations.

And to strike at what makes us all human.

The worst of humanity brought out the very best.

Out of that dark act were born such radiant acts of courage and love. 

The story of that night is also one of great courage and resilience—a story that many of you here today know so well.

Survivors became saviours, somehow overcoming their own pain.

First responders – among them medical staff, police, embassy and consular officials, and local volunteers – ran towards the devastation.

Rescuing everyone they could, going back time and time again to help the injured and comfort the dying.

In the face of exhaustion and horror, hospital staff in Bali worked relentlessly around the clock to save lives and treat catastrophic injuries.

There were outstanding contributions that night and afterwards from across the Australian Government.

People like Australia’s Consul-General, Ross Tysoe, and Vice-Consul David Chaplin—both with us today—were among the first on the scene.

They comforted the victims, including those who could not be saved, desperately arranging phone calls so loved ones could speak with them in their final moments.

Civilian and military aircraft mobilised to transport the victims – regardless of nationality – to hospitals in Darwin, Perth and other specialist burns units.

Australian medical staff, including Dr Fiona Wood and Dr Len Notaras, undertook life-saving surgery and medical treatment on the many dozens of seriously injured victims

Keeping them alive when hope seemed lost.

Nursing them through their pain.

And, against terror’s cruel offering, that was the greatest response: care, compassion, and community.

And a bond between two peoples that could not be broken.

The Bali bombers tried to drive Australia and Indonesia apart, but the story of our two nations over these past twenty years tells us something different.

Our story is one of defiance in the face of terror.

Of resolve to work together and face future challenges side by side.

Of unity.

Of friendship and cooperation.

Our people and our communities share a special connection that goes beyond governments and politics.

Then, now, and into the future.

But today, we share our grief as Australians.

We shoulder our sorrow alongside the people of the 21 other nations who lost their own that night.

We hold in our hearts those we lost.

We hold in our hearts the survivors and the first responders.

We hold in our hearts all who have carried the burden of loss and the unshakeable weight of memory.

And all the survivors we have lost in the two decades since.

We remember you.

We honour you.

And we stand with you.

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