Speeches

PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS Suicide Terrorism

October 16, 2006

Mr HAYES (Werriwa) (5.21 p.m.)—I rise in support of this very important motion by the
member for Barton. No matter what group and no matter what cause, suicide bombing as a
means of protest, or as a method of getting an organisation’s message across to the wider
populus, must be condemned by this parliament in the strongest possible terms. No matter
how geographically far we are from individual occurrences of suicide terrorism, it not only
instils fear in the minds of the general population but also affects the treatment and
characterisation of members of communities from which the suicide bombers have come. No
matter how one describes it, the act of suicide bombing is nothing but the deliberate targeting
of innocent people in order to deliver a political message. No matter how groups try to
rationalise their use of the technique of terror, no matter how they might try to defend their
actions, suicide bombing is nothing short of a criminal act and should be declared a crime
against humanity.


I acknowledge that it would be virtually impossible to stop a determined suicide bomber. No
matter how stringent the checks put in place may be, a determined bomber could possibly get
through the net with the express purpose of delivering his—or, on rare occasions, her—payload
of death. Suicide terrorism may seem senseless and irrational to most of us, but to those
leaders and groups, religious and political, who view this as a tool of their trade, it is a
powerful weapon against whoever they consider to be their enemies. Suicide terrorism has
increased.


Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, has collected
data on acts of suicide terrorism. Between 1980 and 2004 there were 462 acts of suicide
terrorism worldwide. Obviously, given the activities in Iraq of late, this number is now
significantly higher. The data that he has collected indicates, contrary to popular opinion, that
religious beliefs are not the principle driver of these attacks. For instance, the Tamil Tigers of
Sri Lanka are the world’s leaders in suicide terrorism and, as every member of this parliament
would appreciate, their motivation is not religion. Pape concludes that it is not religion but
rather a desire to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from lands which
the terrorists consider to be their homeland that is the primary motivator. One interesting
aspect of these attacks which I would like to draw to the attention of the House is that, again
contrary to popular belief, until the United States’ invasion of Iraq there had never been a
suicide terrorist attack in the whole history of Iraq.


No matter the motivation, Australia must play a role in bringing this form of terrorism—and
any other form, for that matter—to an end. The terms of the motion before the House are
pretty straightforward. The motion calls on the Australian government to undertake simple actions that will clearly state the manner in which the international community views suicide
attacks. While of itself the drafting and the adoption of an international convention on suicide
terrorism will not bring an end to attacks, while it will not bring an end to the incitement of
action on behalf of extremists, it will clarify the world’s condemnation of this form of terrorism.
Enough time has passed and enough innocent lives have been lost for the world community to
properly clarify the international standard by which suicide terrorists, and in particular their
backers, will be judged.


The threat of suicide terrorism is more likely to grow rather than diminish. While Australia and
most Western nations have yet to see this tactic of protest used on their own soil, that is no
reason to dismiss the possibility. It was only a little over four years ago that we saw suicide
bombing attacks in Bali targeting Western tourists. They resulted in the deaths of 202 people,
including 88 Australians, and the injuring of more than 300 others. The Australian government
owes it to those who lost their lives in Bali and owes it to the families of everyone who has
suffered at the hands of suicide bombers to take every action possible to lead the charge of
ridding the world of this threat of suicide terrorism. If the Australian government is to provide
the leadership required to combat terrorism, this leadership has to extend beyond military
action and it must address some of the fundamental issues that go to the heart of terrorist
activity.

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST