Remarks to ceremony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Bali bombings

  • Speech, check against delivery
Bali, Indonesia

Distinguished guests, survivors, families, first responders, it is an honour to be speaking before you all. I know many of you have travelled a very long way to be here today.

I would also like to acknowledge some of our provincial government representatives who are joining us this morning including the Vice Governor of Bali, Bapak Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati and Chief of Bali Provincial Police, Inspector General Bapak Putu Jayan Danu Putra and other representatives from government and local organisations.

Today marks twenty years since terrorists attacked Paddy’s Pub and the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali.

What should have been a typical October Saturday night in Bali – ringing with music and laughter – turned into something terrible.

Two bombs, detonated twenty seconds apart, shattered the night.

202 people died.

Another 209 were injured.

Among those killed: 88 Australians; 38 Indonesians; and citizens of more than 20 other nations.

Sports teams celebrating the end of their seasons.

Families and friends on holiday.

People simply passing by, on their way into town, or back home to their families.

That terrible night, amidst the fire and smoke and rubble, brave first responders – official and unofficial – saved many lives.

Hotel managers sheltered survivors.

Traffic wardens searched through the devastation, carrying out the dead and the injured.

Doctors and nurses administered critical care – at hospitals in Bali, in Darwin and in Perth.

Officials, including from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Defence Force, and the Australian Federal Police worked alongside Indonesian counterparts, epitomising the spirit of cooperation which sits at the heart of the relationship between our two nations.

As the sun rose over the wreckage the next morning, volunteers from the local community, unprompted, turned up to help the official efforts.

Phoning hospitals and hotels to search for the missing and the injured.

Australian and Indonesian officials, together, worked tirelessly to help the victims and their families.

Twenty years later, the pain is still felt.

That night remains seared into the national memories of Indonesians, Australians, and so many others.

We will always remember those 202 innocent people – most under the age of 40, the youngest just thirteen years old.

Today, we pay tribute to those who died.

We stand with the survivors, relatives and families and support them at this time.

And we remember the valour and the quiet courage of those who saw the worst of humanity and responded with the best.

So many words have been spoken, and so many tears shed, over that night.

And we know that for those who lived through it, and for those who lost loved ones, none of it will ever be enough.

Nothing can bring back the lives and the innocence that we lost that day.

But twenty years later, we can say that terror failed.

As Foreign Minister Wong said, “out of that loss and tragedy came strength and courage, a defiance in the face of terror”.

In the wake of the attacks, Australians and Indonesians joined together.

We’ve worked together to respond to transnational crime and terrorism, and to build positive links between our two multicultural, multifaith societies.

We are connected by culture, by trade, and through cooperating on global challenges.

After the tragedy 20 years ago, Australia and Indonesia established the ’12 October Australian Memorial Centre’ Burns Unit at the Prof Ngoerah Hospital.

The Prof Ngoerah Hospital now works closely with the Royal Darwin Hospital and the National Care and Trauma Response Centre in Australia.

It’s just one example of how our countries came together after this tragedy.

Today, our two nations are closer than ever.

Bound by a common grief; and bound by the fierce conviction that terror should not be allowed to win, that humanity can outlive fear.

An attack that was meant to make us smaller and more afraid has instead made us stronger and more connected than before.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, although “their bombs worked and they inflicted the carnage they desired, they could not achieve their aim”.

They tried to instil fear, and strike “at the joy of a free people”.

But they did not take that away from us – and instead reminded us of everything that we value and the need to protect it more than ever before.

Today, we remember the lives that were taken and the physical and mental devastation of survivors and families.

Here, and across Australia, we commemorate everyone who is still affected by this tragedy 20 years ago.

As Prime Minister Albanese said,

They struck at the friendship between us, they struck at freedom, they struck at the joy of a free people and they struck at love, but we remain.

But we remain.

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