Terrorist bombing in Bali
3AW Radio Interview with Neil Mitchell, 4 October 2005
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4 October 2005
Look, in a sense, this man’s an eyewitness too.
The Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbott, is in Bali on holidays. He was...well, he went to the hospitals. He heard about it, obviously, and got himself involved. He’s on the line now, from Bali.
Mr Abbott, good morning.
I heard you describe what you said was an Australian hero. What did you see him do?
Well, this is Dr Adam Frost. Adam is a Newcastle GP. He was here in Bali with a group of Newcastle parents, who were there to, I guess, accompany their 18 to 18-year-old kids on a surfing holiday. And Adam wasn’t amongst the group that went to Jimbaran Beach, although most of the adults in the group did. Once it was obvious what had happened, Adam went off to Sanglah Hospital, chased up the injured, made sure they were being attended to properly, assisted with medical attention where he could, and like a good captain, he stayed until the last of them was on a medical evacuation flight out to Darwin last night. A really outstanding bloke, who rose to great heights of duty and service over the last 48 hours.
Where were you, when you heard what had happened?
Well, I was, funnily enough, (laughs) sleeping in bed, when my sister called at five o’clock in the morning to say, are you okay? And I thought she was pulling my leg at first. But it became pretty obvious, once the TV was turned on, that a terrible disaster and atrocity had taken place. So I just jogged down to Kuta Square, where one of the bombs had gone off, had a look at what was happening there. All you could really see was just a lot of smashed glass on the street.
The immediate environs were roped off by the police. Then I just jumped in a taxi up to Sanglah Hospital to see if there was anything useful I could do, and spent most of the day talking to those who were injured, liaising with the consul, Brian Diamond, who I have to say rose magnificently to the occasion, in the best traditions of public service. And I went home when the last of them went off to the hosp… went off to the airfield for evacuation last night.
What did you see at the hospital, when you arrived? Because, we’ve had described to us chaotic conditions. What was happening when you got there?
I think that’s probably - well, I think that’s probably a slight overstatement.
You know, the Indonesian way of doing things is not, in every respect the Australian way. And hospitals in countries like this don’t work absolutely in the same way that ours do. Not that ours don’t have an element of chaos in them at times when they’re under great pressure, but I think that the Indonesian health system coped pretty well, in part because of the new burns unit and the new intensive care unit that the Australian Government funded at Sanglah Hospital.
But I think the Indonesians did very well by our Australian injured. On the other hand, I think they were pleased that some of the more serious cases were evacuated out, where they could be looked after by Australians or by others, because just as well as we’ve had some dead Australians, we’ve had quite a lot more dead Indonesians, injured Indonesians, and obviously their hands were full.
What did the injured people say to you, those you were able to talk to. What did they say to you?
Well, the interesting thing, not surprising in some ways, is that mostly they were interested in their kids, they were interested in how their other family members were faring, they were interested in what had happened to other people. That spirit of selflessness which we like to think is still alive certainly was in evidence amongst the injured Australians here in Bali.
Why are you staying? Most people will be getting out, why are you staying in Bali?
Well look, I have not had a vote, a family vote, and I could get outvoted four to one. But I suspect that we will think that it’s better to stay and finish the holiday that you …
Is that a comment coming from your wife...
Well, yeah. She just said she...we went on a cycle tour yesterday. But the thing is this. Bali has been a great destination for Australians now for several decades. Many Australians have a lot of deep personal friendships with Balinese people, and I think it would be disappointing if Australians just decided that they were off, on the strength of this terrible atrocity, because of the vast, vast, vast majority of the people of Bali would be every bit as appalled by this as Australians are.
Just finally, what was your emotion? Is it anger, disgust, fear ... what was the emotion?
Well, once you’re in the hospital, I think the overwhelming emotion is pity. Pity for the victims. And I guess, just a terrible, terrible sense of sadness that there are kids who are … who have lost parents. There are parents who have lost children. And just deep, deep sorrow at how this blight could settle on these lives.
Thank you very much for speaking to us. Tony Abbott, the Health Minister on holiday in Bali.
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