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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13251


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:07): Mr Ambassador, when the first explosions were heard inside the Stade de France on Friday, 13 November, Patrice Evra was the French player in possession of the ball. Evra was born in Dakar, Senegal. On the field with him that night were players with family in Angola, Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of Congo—men of different faiths and cultures, brought up in different traditions, all wearing the famous blue of the country they love. And in the No. 12 shirt was Lassana Diarra, a practising Muslim, who was not yet to know that his own cousin was among those killed that night. Just a year ago Diarra was himself wrongly accused of having joined Islamic State—and now here they were, claiming responsibility for the murder of a woman he described as a rock, a support, a big sister. This is just one man mourning the loss of a loved one. Those same scenes of trauma and sadness are being played out across Lebanon, Mali and France as people slowly come to grips with the evil deeds of the past fortnight—indiscriminate, immoral, inhuman murder that we condemn today on behalf of all Australians. Mr Ambassador, please know that, as one country and one people, we offer our heartfelt condolences to your nation and to the people of France, especially those mourning the loss of someone they loved.

It does not matter what faith terrorists invoke—if they invoke a faith. It does not matter what imagined injustice they pretend to have suffered. It does not matter what name terrorists claim to act in or what flag they wave. Regardless of the religious symbol they claim to love, the nightmare is always the same: spreading fear and inciting hatred and division. Whether it occurs in Beirut, in the air above Egypt, in Bamako or in Paris, every act of terrorism is equally cowardly and equally abhorrent. Because every human life is precious and every death is mourned, every act of terrorism is an affront to our humanity wherever it happens and whoever it affects.

As reports of the bombing spread across Paris, people began gathering in the Place de la Republique. In the centre of that famous square stands a statue of Marianne, the national symbol of the French Republic, an idealisation of liberty and reason. In her right hand she clasps an olive branch. Her left hand rests on a copy of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. On the pedestal beneath her a lion guards a representation of a ballot box. Liberty, peace, justice, democracy—virtues carved in marble, etched in stone, tested and tempered in war and revolution, paid for by the courage, faith and sacrifice of generations past.

The attack on Paris was not just an attack on a city beloved by the world; it was an attack on the qualities that Paris embodies. It was an assault on the fundamental right of free people to live in peace. It was an atrocity designed to divide the world. And even in those early hours, as people around the world sought to make sense of the senseless, it was clear that the terrorists had failed. They failed because our world will not capitulate to fear. The remarkable Tasmanian student Emma Parkinson reminded us that Australians will never yield to division. We will stand together, many races, many languages, many faiths but one people. We share a common humanity that binds us and guides us. We re-dedicate ourselves to that today.