Sunday, 17 April 2005
My Fellow Australians,
It is an essential part of the War we are fighting - a very different war from the ones in the past, yet a war nonetheless - to keep the Australian electorate informed of what the Government is doing, and why it is doing it.
When the first news of the bombings in Sydney reached me, it was unclear as to what the scale of the attack was. The fact that multiple bombs went off within a short period indicated a planned and co-ordinated attack, and we now know that this in fact was the case. We didn't know the scale of casualties, nor the size of the bombs. We didn't have the luxury of waiting to find out before instituting countermeasures, if we were to deter or defeat any follow-up and catch those responsible.
I therefore authorised the implementation of our standard contingency plan against a bombing campaign. Swift action was essential, and swift but suboptimal action was prefferable to the best plan hopelessly delayed in execution.
The object of this standard contingency plan was, as I have stated before,
Firstly, to minimise the damage already done.
Secondly, to stop recurrence.
Thirdly, to apprehend those who did the terrible deeds.
A neccessary consequence of this plan was the temporary disruption of transport within the Sydney Metropolitan area, and a list of minor but aggravating inconveniences which we're all aware of and have suffered from.
It is far easier to destroy than to build. It is far easier to stop the normal flow of commerce and business than to restart it again. However, the trains are back, the busses are back, and the number of scheduled air services continues to grow day by day.
So, was the gain worth the cost?
Well, the NSW police have already caught the bomber, and have a suspect in custody in connection with other offences. It's difficult to see how those responsible could have been caught sooner.
The initial bombings appear to have been designed to cause a costly reaction out of all proportion to the damage. In this, they suceeded. How could they not, if we were to prevent further bombings? A simple code word to one individual, and the campaign commenced. The bombings were but the first part of a many-faceted attack over many days.
However, our Enemy had not thought the matter through. The extent of our cooly and calmy planned reaction, far in excess of anything they thought they could provoke, has caused the initial wave to be caught in their own web.
I say "initial wave", because we are still determining the extent of the Enemy's attack. They may have shot their bolt; or they may be lying low, unable to attack due to our prompt countermeasures, and praying that they not be found. They may yet have an arrow or two in their quiver. We are doing our best not to give them the chance to fire it.
In closing, I must ask the Australian population for their help. Ordinary, decent Australians, who happen to be Muslim Australians, are being singled out by a minority of who are both misguided and terminally stupid. I say to you now, that the Muslim Australians who are the victims of assaults are far more Australian than the thugs and bullies who assault them. There is no denying that the single Enemy Combatant who planted the bombs claimed to be Muslim, as he recently proclaimed to the world in Court that he was a Holy Warrior bent on Jihad. That a suspect - a suspect who must be assumed innocent until a cort finds otherwise - who also claims to be Muslim has recently been arrested for Arson is also undeniable.
But the vast majority of Australia's Islamic population are some of the most decent, moral people here. To tar them with the same brush as any False Muslim who bombs the innocent is not just stupid, it's actually evil.
Muslims are not the Enemy. They are an innocent group who the enemy hides in, so naturally they are subject to more scrutiny than others. We should respect that, and show them more consideration for the grave inconvenience they are suffering, inconvenience and trouble well in excess of that suffered by other Australians. They in turn are doing their best to purge the Enemy that hides amongst them, and I personally thank them for doing their duty by their Religion, and their Nation. So should we all.
Q : You mention the case of Omar Masri, the Mad Bomber, who you say has been labelled an "Enemy Combatant". Can you tell us when he'll come to trial?
PM : He admits that he's an enemy soldier executing military attacks in wartime, so is not subject to a civilian court's jurisdiction. He's been put in a Prisoner Of War camp pending a military tribunal which will determine if he is an Illegal Combatant, and thus outside all law, civilian or military.
Q : Prime Minister, (inaudible) you elaborate on that?
Q : What is an "Illegal Combatant"?
Q : (inaudible) sent to Guantanamo Bay?
Q : Can (inaudible) outside (inaudible)?
PM : One at a time please. We're at war, he claims to be a soldier executing a military attack, so he's being treated as such. Should he be judged incontestibly guilty of committing a grievous atrocity by deliberately bombing innocents while operating covertly, he won't be entitled to the protected status of a Prisoner of War under the Geneva Conventions.
Q : What did you mean by "outside all law"? Will he be released?
PM : His disposition will depend on what the military tribunal finds. If there's any doubt about him committing an atrocity, he'll retain Enemy Prisoner of War status.
Q : With respect, Prime Minister, you didn't answer the question. If he is found guilty, what then?
PM : He won't be entitled to Prisoner of War status. In such a case, what we'll do with him will be decided by the reviewing tribunal in due course. It will be something appropriate, and won't stain our national character.
Q : Isn't this just a charade to re-introduce the Death Penalty by Stealth?
PM : No, not at all. It's to introduce a coherent code of behaviour when dealing with a captured enemy in the War against Terror, or indeed, any other war. A code entirely consistent with the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, in both letter and spirit. That's all I'm prepared to say at this point. Thank you.