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Transcript 20956

Interview with Paul Murray, Radio 6PR

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: 13/10/2003

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 20956

MURRAY:

Prime Minister, what did you want to achieve from the Bali service?

PRIME MINISTER:

I wanted to help the families and the people who were injured but survived. When you had a big loss like this you never find in one event closure or a breakthrough but each little contribution is part of the process of helping people and I believe that we probably achieved that, my sense was that people felt it was worthwhile. The whole idea of having it was to really help the people.

MURRAY:

Some of the families told us afterwards that you were very visibly moved as you looked at the photos of the people who had died, after the service, what were you feeling at that stage?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well of course I was moved, most of them were young, their lives were just brutally torn apart, were destroyed, and if you';re a parent yourself you think there but for the grace of God… and of course, you';d be inhuman not to be moved, to actually see all of those photographs on that wall and they were all happy, young, vibrant people, most of them, I mean some of them were older, and I';m not deifying the young, but most of them were young and it';s always so tragic when parents have to bury their children.

MURRAY:

On that I think the service was a triumph in general terms, I mean it just appeared to go down so well. There appeared to be one black spot, there was a woman shouting at you from the audience, were you aware of that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I was aware of some noise, but I just kept going, I don';t know whether it was shouting or distress, I just don';t know, some people said it was distress, others may have thought otherwise but I just kept going.

MURRAY:

You said in your address that we';ve learned to control our anger, what did you mean by that?

PRIME MINISTER:

What I meant by that was that we haven';t just blindly struck out at everybody who might have been remotely associated with the people, we haven';t blindly struck out at Islam, we haven';t lost sight of the fact that we must discipline our anger and help the Indonesians catch those people who did it and instead of saying, as some might have thought, that this is the fault of Indonesia, it';s happened in Indonesia, we immediately went to the Indonesian Government and said we want to work with you to catch the people who did this, knowing that this was as much an attack on the Indonesian state as it was an attack on the people who were killed and injured and that';s what I meant by controlling our anger.

MURRAY:

The joint taskforce that';s hunted these people down has been a remarkable success given what has in the past been a somewhat testy relationship between our countries.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think it';s been a huge tribute to the Federal Police in Australia and the Indonesian Police and we presented honorary awards last night to General Bachtiar and General Pastika and the others who were largely responsible, with the help let me say of some terrific work by the Australian Federal Police. Nobody should underestimate the contribution the Australian Federal Police, in a very understated way, have made to this.

MURRAY:

Prime Minister yesterday at a press conference General Pastika was asked about the travel warnings and whether Indonesians were bothered by the fact that we still have travel warnings and he said your Prime Minister is coming here to this country, the Prime Minister has a duty to warn his citizens, but you can read into that what you might. Clearly they put great weight on the fact that you are prepared to come here.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well fair enough. I wanted to come, I was determined to come, and absent a specific warning that somebody was going to blow us all up I was determined to come and give a lead to those who wanted to come for this service. Now there was extraordinary security today and it continues, but we also have a duty to warn people and make it plain that there are still circumstances that make it dangerous to travel to parts of Indonesia. I';m sorry about that but we';re between a rock and a hard place. If we don';t tell people about it, obviously they would be critical if something goes wrong.

MURRAY:

General Pastika was asked about the role of the Islamic schools in Indonesia in fuelling terrorism. He became very sensitive about it and said that was an issue for politicians not for policemen, policemen have got into a lot of trouble when they talked about that. Is it an issue that you';ve pursued with the Indonesian Government?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well let';s put it this way, we don';t want any hatred of that kind taught in any schools in Indonesia, or anywhere in the world. We obviously have a strong view about the Indonesian Government taking measures to fight terrorism but we recognise that in the end something like this is a matter for the Indonesian Government. I mean it';s a sovereign country, we can';t tell it what to do but we will help in any way to combat terrorism inside this country.

MURRAY:

But can we engage them in discussions about that or is it just too sensitive a matter for us to even raise with them?

PRIME MINISTER:

No I don';t think it';s too sensitive, I mean I can remember when Dr Wahid was President and he was saying something to me about some extremist Islamic schools. It';s not a sensitive subject with some Indonesian leaders.

MURRAY:

Well he was the leader of the biggest Islamic group in Indonesia.

PRIME MINISTER:

But he was also a very mature person on this subject. He really illustrates the point. Mainstream Islam is as opposed to and finds terrorism as abhorrent as anybody else does, I mean it does a great disservice to mainstream Islam for people to think otherwise.

MURRAY:

The senior Indonesian representative today, General Yodohoyono, was a Muslim, he had a rousing reception to his speech, a very strong statement against terrorism. Were you reassured by what he said?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I was, I thought he made some very impressive comments about terrorism. I thought it was a very strong statement and it';s very reassuring that he did.

MURRAY:

Just finally Prime Minister, there';s talk on Legian Street that the Australian Government wants to buy the Sari club site for some sort of perpetual memorial, can you tell us anything about that?

PRIME MINISTER:

We don';t have any proposal like that at present. Some people have informally raised it with us but we have not given consideration to it.

MURRAY:

There is one last matter, there';s been a lot of discussion about this idea of closure and you mentioned it at the start of this interview. At the reception with the families after the service today did you get a feeling that any of them or all of them maybe are getting close to something like that?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think most of them found the service very helpful and the whole event very helpful. But I';m one of those people who thinks the word closure is used too frequently and used wrongly. When you have lost somebody abruptly and violently and wilfully and maliciously as these people have you never really have closure. What happens is that with the passage of time and with help and love and support from others you can learn to live with it, so I think we use that word a little too carelessly and wrongly. I thought though that today was a huge contribution to the process of getting on with their lives, without forgetting the people they';ve lost.

MURRAY:

Many thanks for talking to us.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 20956