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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 431

Mr GILES (Scullin) (17:02): I rise to make some very brief remarks on this very important issue, and I am pleased to have been here for those remarks just made by the member for Higgins and also those from the member for Ballarat. The way in which they conveyed their thoughts I think stands as testament to how the Victorian community has responded to the awful events of last month. As I am a Melburnian and someone who has spent almost all of my working life in the Melbourne CBD in and around the area where the tragedy occurred, these events feel very close to home. As the member for Ballarat said so effectively, it is so easy to put ourselves in the shoes of those who found themselves in unimaginable circumstances. It is so easy to put ourselves in their shoes, so it should be easy for us to reach out from this place to those who will no doubt need support well beyond today.

It is important to acknowledge the six people who lost their lives, to mourn for them and to recognise that there are many others who will be in mourning for some time. It is important again that we ensure that every support is given to them and to the 37 people hospitalised that day. As we mourn, we must also recognise the manner in which others responded. People have spoken about the first responders, and I am in awe of the work that they did under the most trying of circumstances. I am in awe of the first responders and—again as the member for Ballarat set out—those in hospitals who gave treatment, recognising the extraordinary circumstances under which they were treating those people. It is simply inspiring, though, to appreciate the bystanders—the ordinary people working, shopping and otherwise enjoying what should have been a typical summer day in Melbourne—who put themselves in harm's way to look after others—others they did not know. That was the best of Victoria.

In the days that followed, it was heartening to see the way in which the community, at every level, responded and the remarks of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Premier of Victoria—who made the point, 'We are stronger than what happened,' and that is a point that has already been proven correct—and the Lord Mayor of Melbourne. The way in which Melburnians and others have come to show publicly their tribute and their thoughts is something that I have been struck by and that I am sure we will continue to be struck by.

In this place, Australia's parliament, it is so important that we make a stand here—a stand in memory and in tribute to those who lost their lives, those close to them, everyone who was directly affected and those many hundreds of people who will continue to be directly affected. It is also important, as other speakers have said, that we reflect on what happened. I think it is important that we do so in a measured way and that we do not react for the sake of reacting in response to such unimaginable and grotesque awfulness. I think the tribute that we can and should pay to all those directly affected is to continue to recognise—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 17:07 to 17:2 1

Mr GILES: In conclusion, it is important that those of us in this place have an opportunity to pay tribute with words to all those affected by the tragic events of 20 January. It is more important, of course, that in our deeds those of us with the capacity to act do so and do so appropriately, that we take the time to learn what can be learned from that terrible day, that we continue to pay tribute to all of those who lost their lives and all of those affected by the loss of loved ones, that we continue to take every step to ensure that all those in need of support receive the support that they need and that as Melburnians we continue to go about our lives and to support one another and to show the fantastic spirit that was demonstrated by our first responders and ordinary citizens on that day.