Remarks, 16th Commemoration Ceremony of the 2002 Bali Bombings

PRIME MINISTER: I want to thank you very much for the opportunity to come here once again and to join with you again on this very difficult day. People have come here today, not just from the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. They’ve come from Tasmania, they’ve come from southern Sydney, where in my community, we lost seven beautiful girls. 88 Australians.

As we come together on this day, it’s sixteen years. There’s nothing particularly special about sixteen years. It’s another year that we come together, and we remember. We’re sad. We’re hopeful, at least we try to be on a day like today. We remember special moments, and all of those that were taken away in an instant of unspeakable evil.

But what is beautiful about this ceremony is the way that I think it has been embraced by a country that looks to a moment like this for a further step in healing. And that’s why we come together, and we shake hands and we swap embraces and we walk along this beautiful headland and we read the names and we reflect.

I did not know the Coogee Dolphins who perished in Bali. Or indeed the 202 who lost their lives on that terrible day. But we all felt the numbness that swept through this country in the days that followed that terrible night. None of us could believe it, and no one more so than the men and women who gather here and indeed those who were there that night.

In an instant, lives were upended, can’t forget what we saw, read and heard in those days. The fire, the chaos, the confusion. But also the courage, the love, the compassion. All of it’s remembered today. And through it all, we saw in the men and women lost in Bali that night, people who were as loving and as normal and as complicated as anyone else in our country today.

The Australians in Bali were there for no other reason than to enjoy and celebrate life and each other. A moment of happiness. An end of season trip, a family holiday, a surfing safari – the chance to make friends, learn to surf, even get a tattoo, hang out with mates, find love and laugh with strangers.

It doesn’t get more Australian than that. It doesn’t get more normal than that.

It is what made that night so shocking – the realisation that our daily living and our daily freedom could arouse such warped fury and hatred. It’s hard to understand. And those that were left behind – wives, husbands, mums, dads, children, brothers, sisters, clubmates, workmates, friends and loved ones who grieved.

So we carry that numbness today, we remember the survivors, who returned to lives that were never the same but have showed a courage that is truly remarkable.

And we also remember the Balinese people who suffered, and I acknowledge the Consul General today, who suffered. And we also remember today in a moment those who suffer in Indonesia because of the terrible tragedy in Sulawesi. That is a tragedy of nature. What was suffered on this day sixteen years ago was a tragedy of evil.

So places like Dolphin Point matter. For they allow us to draw strength – from our memories, from each other and from our country.

It’s a sacred place, and in the quietness you will hear the voice, the laughs, the jokes, the kindnesses, the mischievousness, the gentleness. So I would encourage you to listen to them. They are part of this place. They are not forgotten.

Thank you and God bless them all.

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