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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 21535

Address at the Australian Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia

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: 19/10/2004

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 21535

Well thank you very much Ambassador, David Ritchie, your wife Janelle, the Deputy Head of Mission, Mr Peter Rowe, Mr Graeme Swift, the Senior Administrative officer. I first, having acknowledged them, I would like to acknowledge the families of two of our Indonesian friends who tragically lost their lives on the 9th of September and that's the families of Mr Suryadi and Mr Sujarwo who were both killed. And I'd also like to welcome two of the guards who've come especially out of hospital - Mr Sitampul and Mr Sudirman, and all of whom were members of the Embassy staff. And I do want on behalf of all of the Australian people to express my tremendous admiration to those of our friends amongst the Indonesian people who worked so hard and so loyally and in such a dedicated way for the Embassy here in Jakarta, to express our sorrow for those who've lost their lives and our love and sympathy to their families and our continued willingness to help in any way we can to help you through this very sad time and to extend our thanks that the injuries that many of you sustained are now healing and in most cases you will be back to good health, some unfortunately have lost the use of an eye or a limb, others still suffering very badly in hospital, and I want all of you to know that the concern of the Australian public from the Government and all the other members of the Australian public is ongoing.

Can I also take the opportunity of expressing my great admiration to David Ritchie, the Ambassador, for the remarkable courage and leadership that he displayed on that day. I spoke to him within three-quarters of an hour, or perhaps less, of the bomb going off and there was a true professional, serving his country in a very courageous and effective manner. His concern was with the health and the safety of those for whom he had a responsibility - whether they were Embassy staff, locally engaged staff, Indonesian police, private security officers, gardeners, no matter who the person might be, the Ambassador's concern was with their welfare and the way in which he conducted himself reflected enormous credit on the professionalism, not only of David himself as an individual, but also the great professionalism of those people who work for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the name of Australia. And I do want to take this opportunity here on the soil of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta that has suffered this terrible attack to say on behalf of the Australian people how much we are in debt to our diplomats who serve the interests of our country overseas. It's not an easy job, this particular incident on the 9th of September demonstrated that it can be an incredibly dangerous job, it can be a job that claims the lives of people in a wanton and indiscriminate fashion. And to all of you who are employed in the name of Australia representing our interests overseas, can I express my thanks and my admiration, I salute your professionalism and I particularly salute the professionalism of the Ambassador of Australia in Indonesia, Mr David Ritchie.

I've come here today to attend tomorrow the inauguration of the recently elected President of Indonesia. I'm doing it as an expression of personal goodwill towards Dr Bambang Yudhoyono and also as a mark of the great importance that I attach to the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. We are two nations forever linked with each other by history, by geography, by a common interest, by a common commitment to fight and defeat the scourge of terrorism in our part of the world. And a desire to live in peace and harmony, to recognise that two nations with vastly different cultures and backgrounds, but shared values of peace and equality amongst men and women around the world can work together. And the way in which the people of Indonesia have received the members of the Embassy staff on behalf of Australia, the way in which they have reached out to so many members of the Australian community who are living here in Indonesia, is an example of those very close relationships. Tragedy and adversity is a terrible thing, but often it brings people together in a way that they mightn't expect. And so it will be with this terrible tragedy that there'll be opportunities to emphasise the things that we have in common, the future that we share.

So I therefore again thank our friends from Indonesia, I particularly thank and salute the families of those who've lost so much, for their courage, for their friendship, for their loyalty, to their employment by Australia. I hope that everything that we can do to make your life a little easier will be done, that is our desire, and to those who continue to work for us we thank you for your courage and your commitment and your loyalty to us in every way that we can we will help you as you continue to help us. And to all of my fellow Australians who are working here in Jakarta thank you again for the different things that you are doing in our name for our country, it is truly appreciated and greatly admired.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript 21535