When the bombing of the Sari Club occurred on the 12th of October in 2002, many Australians considered it an attack on us since the majority of those killed came from our country and many of our people holiday in Bali due to its affordability and proximity to our nation. Of the two-hundred and two killed, eighty-eight were Australian. Our national politicians rejected this allegation that we were targeted and assumed the bombing was meant for American and British tourists. The bombers themselves said that it was not carried out to target Australians; many citizens have held doubts about that claim since and now feel justified. An attack on the Australian embassy in Indonesias capital, Jakarta, has confirmed the fears we have had for a great long time. We are a target and those who are responsible do not care how many of their own country men and women die to achieve their objectives. This is not at all so surprising to people who have lived with terrorism for decades, but living on the worlds biggest island can give you an illusion of safe isolation a kind of comfort that has not been shattered since the attempted invasion of World War II.

Despite concerns for the loss of life and for those injured -- life really is continuing normally, quite the opposite effect the terrorists would have anticipated. By now the story has only really affected our national security policies, which are the politicians main concern for the 9th of October election. There has been little debate about the intention of the bombing - the removal of our troops from Iraq, but there is an underlying feeling that the majority of the population is not pleased by our presence, which all comes down to the Weapons of Mass Destruction (sounds like a hair-metal band doesnt it?).

The election we are having is not about one sole issue. Rather a multitude of problems to include the following: private schools receiving too much government funding verses the public schools receiving too little (ridiculous, why call it a private school when the government gives it so much money?), university/college places are at their lowest causing a shortage in skills for the economy, we have not signed the Kyoto protocol and are one of the worst green house gas producers in the world (yes, its that bad and I say this is a problem while living where most of it is produced with a family connection to the business itself), waiting lists for medical treatment have skyrocketed severely denting one of the best health systems in the world, refugees (now called asylum seekers and que jumpers) are still kept in detention (basically prison and it includes children) for up to 3 or more years while their visa applications are processed, the indigenous community has been ignored completely and many live in third world conditions and old growth forests are being torn down as we think (in a country that is mostly desert). Okay, so yes Im upset, but mostly for one reason, my generation will have to patch all this up. With all these issues stomping on us, terrorism still does not (for the moment) ruin our lives as much.

A good thing to come out of the attack is the change of our focus; we are much more concerned with the terrorism that occurs in our own hood, being principally caused by South-east Asian based Jemaah Islamiah (JI). The government is starting to notice countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (took them long enough to notice), that they may need assistance in dealing with this threat and how we can keep it from reaching our shores.

If the next government can turn away from spending too much time on military issues like where to buy our new tanks and put that into policing, a coast guard, forging better and more co-ordinated communication with our neighbours, focussing on the social and economic causes of terrorism and crime (these are inter-mixed and crime has been big locally, see the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea for example) then we may all just might have a chance Down Under (sorry, I still hate that saying, no one calls a South American or African that, so why say it to us? It sounds like a reference to the genitalia).

See Matts blog at: http://lightofthequasar.blogspot.com/

Copyright Matt Holt, 2004