Ross B. Taylor AM
Very few Australians, or anyone in the World for that matter, could have imagined the impact of the devastating bomb blasts that ripped the heart out of Bali on 12th October 2002 killing 202 people including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians. It also destroyed the unwritten belief that Bali was ‘ours’; a natural and safe extension of Australia where young Aussies have holidayed since people like me lived in small losmans on Kuta Beach in 1971.
Almost no-one could have also imagined that the shocking carnage inflicted upon the Kuta Beach nightclubs that evening would, 15 years later, become a reality of daily life as international terrorism spread its evil doctrine to every corner of the earth.
Today, for many young Australians the story of the ‘Bali Bombings’ is something that mum and dad or grandparents talk about, as a new generation of Aussies get to fall-in-love with this incredibly beautiful island and its chilled-out atmosphere.
So on this 15th anniversary of this horrifying terrorist attack, perhaps it is a good time to pause and ask: Is there anything ‘good’ we can take from this terrible event that could make our world a little better?
Ironically, at a government level, relations between Indonesia and Australia should have collapsed as a result of what happened in 2002. Yet in their commitment to find the perpetrators of these bombings, the Indonesian National Police and our Federal Police formed an unusual alliance that resulted in most of the Bali bombers being apprehended and convicted.
This ‘odd’ partnership only happened due to an act of terrorism, yet it has endured, with many planned attacks in Bali and the region being thwarted in time to undoubtedly save the lives of many more tourists and locals.
The Bali bombings have actually brought the Balinese people and Australians closer together rather than forced us away as the terrorists would have hoped. Bali 2002 has highlighted the very worst of what can happen when fanatics take control, yet today both our countries are closer because of the lessons learned from that experience.
Bali today is a very different place. Last year over one million Australians holidayed in our favourite playground, and we have saw an unprecedented boom in the number arrivals by mainland Chinese and Indian tourists.
The good news is that, despite the ongoing danger of a ‘lone-wolf’ terrorist attack, Bali is now a far more enjoyable, safer and secure place than in 2002. But for those who were directly impacted by the Bali bombing, the pain and grief continues to be very real and ‘raw’.
So as we pause to commemorate this terrible event that occurred 15 years ago today (12th), let us all make that commitment to to show more respect to our Balinese hosts, and to be more caring towards those who are important to us.
To do this gives some purpose and meaning to our own lives, and truly honours the spirit of those who were badly injured, or lost their lives, on the streets of Kuta Beach in 2002.