Speech to Parliament: Paying Tribute to a Local Hero

I pay tribute to Patrick Byrne, former president of the Coogee Dolphins Rugby League Club, who passed away tragically on 23 May. Patrick Byrne was a remarkable Australian—community minded, fiercely loyal to his family and friends and, above all, heroic.

In 2002, on a night out at the Sari Club in Bali, Patrick left his Coogee Dolphins rugby league teammates to buy cigarettes. What happened next changed his life forever. A bomb was detonated, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians—20 of those from our community in Kingsford Smith. Wasting no time, Patrick courageously ran back into the inferno and carried several injured people to safety. Despite his brave efforts, for which he received a bravery award in 2008, six of Patrick's mates died that evening on their end-of-year football trip.

When he returned he put aside his grief to assist family and friends, doing a fundraiser and earning an NRL community award. With Patrick as president of the club, Coogee won back-to-back A-grade premierships in 2007 and 2008. Speaking at Patrick's funeral in May this year, an older brother of one of the deceased, Paul Yeo, said of Patrick, 'He just saw too much.' Many said Patrick never got over the guilt of surviving that night. Although the bomb went off in 2002 and some of those involved in this insidious act of terrorism are now being released from jail, many in Australia continue to suffer and die. I pay tribute to Patrick, and I offer condolences to his family and friends.


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