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Transcript 12494

Interview with Richard Carleton, 60 Minutes

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/10/2002

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 12494

Subjects: Bali Tragedy

E&OE……………………………………………………………………………………

CARLETON:

Mr Howard, thank you very much for coming in. Who's responsible, who did it?

PRIME MINISTER:

On the information we have now, it was a terrorist attack. That's not just the view of our people but it is also the view of the Indonesian intelligence authorities. Who - we don't know yet. Obviously the Indonesians are going to pursue that. We've offered all the help that they will take and they've been responsive to that. It seems clearly to have been a terrorist act, but who, whether it's purely local, whether it's got international links, how close it might be, if any, to a link with al-Qaeda at this stage we don't know.

CARLETON:

You've got no idea?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, it’s only just happened and it's happened in a foreign country and the intelligence services of that foreign country and the police of that foreign country are now setting out to pursue whoever is responsible. But terrorists by the nature of their behaviour are hard to find.

CARLETON:

Who do you suspect?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, at this stage I have to suspect one or other of a number of terrorist groups in Indonesia that have varying degrees of links with international terrorist organisations, but I can't prove that.

CARLETON:

No.

PRIME MINISTER:

But you're asking me who do I suspect. That is who I suspect.

CARLETON:

When the attack was made on the World Trade Centre, America wanted retribution. Do we want retribution?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think what we want is a measured, sensible but powerful reaction. I think the first thing we do is comfort those who've been victims of this attack. We don't know the full extent of the Australian casualties. We have to prepare ourselves for a large number of Australian deaths amongst the fatalities because there are many, many Australians who are unaccounted for at present. I think in a situation like this you have to assess what happened. You have to try to find out why it happened and who did it and then react accordingly. It's not an occasion for hot-headed responses, but it's certainly not an occasion to imagine that if you roll yourself up into a little ball, all these horrible things will go away because it doesn't work like that.

CARLETON:

President Bush in the aftermath of the trade centre was hot, in the sense that he was going out to hunt down and kill those responsible. What's our attitude to those responsible for what may be 100 dead Australians?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, he gave a measured response, and that's what I'm going to give, but everybody reacts in their own way. I want to find out as much information I can about what happened and then work out the most effective way of responding. But what we have to understand is that terrorism can touch anybody anywhere at any time, no matter who they are. That was the message that came out of 11 September last year and, sadly, it's a message that comes out of this because this is on our doorstep affecting our own people in a brutal, unforgivable, indiscriminate fashion.

CARLETON:

What will we do about it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well we are going to find out who did it if we can. In a situation like this, you don't lash out blindly, you try to find out who did it and then work out the best way of pursuing them.

CARLETON:

Are we right to be so lockstep with America's geo-political priorities if this is part of the price we have to pay?

PRIME MINISTER:

I don't accept that analysis. French and Germans have died in terrorist attacks in Tunisia and Pakistan, yet their stance in relation to Iraq, if that's what you're getting at - I think you are - has been different from ours.

CARLETON:

Might part of this be retaliation for our position in relation to America?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I see this very much as a peace with the anti-western character of these extremist terrorist groups. The common thread is that they're hostile of the west and they're pretty indiscriminate as to who and what they hit and what might have been the political stances of different western groups represented by the targets they hit.

CARLETON:

Is there any way we can really stop it?

PRIME MINISTER:

Stopping terrorism is very difficult. Terrorism has no respect for true religious belief. None whatsoever. There is nothing in the beliefs of Islam that invokes or warrants or calls upon the indiscriminate destruction of people, it is not like that. It abhors it as much as true Christianity does. Is it easy to stop terrorism?   No, it's not. It certainly won't be stopped by people imagining if they roll into a little ball and go over into the corner, it will go away because it won't.

CARLETON:

Is it possible to stop?

PRIME MINISTER:

It's difficult. Nothing's impossible. But it's very difficult and it requires the united action of the world and it requires a determination of people who want to live in peace and freedom and see their young travel the world without fear. It requires those people to work together and fight terrorism whenever it rears its head.

CARLETON:

If the bombs used in Bali are anything like the bombs used in the Middle East, or some of the bombs used in the Middle East, they are exceptionally easy to make. That's why I suggest they're near impossible to stop.

PRIME MINISTER:

If you're saying to me it's difficult, of course it is, but it isn't made easier by doing nothing.

CARLETON:

What's the next step for you?

PRIME MINISTER:

To find out what happened, but even before that, to say to all of those people who are awaiting news of their loved ones who are unaccounted for - I hope it's of some comfort to you that many millions of your fellow Australians are trying as best they can and however inadequately to share your anxiety at such a terrible time.

CARLETON:

Mr Howard, thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 12494