Bali memorial speech

2002-10-18 - John Howard


As the sun sets over this beautiful island we gather here in sorrow, in anguish, in disbelief and in pain.

There are no words that I can summon to salve in anyway the hurt and the suffering and the pain being felt by so many of my fellow countrymen and women and by so many of the citizens of other nations.

I can say though to my Australian countrymen and women that there are 19 and a half million Australians who are trying however inadequately to feel for you and to support you at this time of unbearable grief and pain.

The wanton, cruel and barbaric character of what occurred last Saturday night has shocked our nation to the core and now the anguish that so many are feeling, the painful process of identification which has prolonged that agony for so many, the sense of bewilderment and disbelief that so many young lives with so much before them should have been taken away in such blind fury, hatred and violence.

I can on behalf of all the people of Australia declare to you that we will do everything in our power to bring to justice those who were responsible for this foul deed.

We will work with our friends in Indonesia to do that and we will work to others to achieve an outcome of justice.

Can I say to our Balinese friends, the lovely people of Bali, who have been befriended over the decades, by the generations of so many Australians who have come here, we grieve for you, we feel for you, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the love and support you have extended to our fellow countrymen and women over these past days.

As the chaplain said there will be scars left on people for the rest of their life, both physical and emotional.

Our nation has been changed by this event.

Perhaps we may not be so carefree as we have been in the past but we will never lose our openness, our sense of adventure.

The young of Australia will always travel, they will always seek fun in different parts, they will always reach out to the young of other nations, they will always be open, fun-loving and decent men and women.

So as we grapple inadequately and in despair to try and comprehend what has happened, let us gather ourselves together, let us wrap our arms not only around our fellow Australians but our arms around the people of Indonesia, of Bali, let us wrap our arms around the people of other nations and the friends and relatives of the nationals of other countries who died in this horrible event.

It will take a long time for these foul deeds to be seen in any kind of context, they can never be understood, they can never be excused.

Australia has been affected very deeply but the Australian spirit has not been broken, the spirit remains strong and free and open and tolerant.

I know that is what all of those who lost their lives would have wanted and I know that is what those who grieve for them want.