Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 32

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:00): I seek the House's indulgence to speak about the tragic events of 20 January in the Bourke Street mall in Melbourne. On behalf of our parliament and the Australian people, I send our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones. I send our prayers for a speedy recovery to those who were injured, and our thoughts and sympathy go to all those who witnessed this horrifying criminal act.

It was an ordinary day shattered by terrible violence. Six innocent people lost their lives. Another 37 sustained serious injuries. To the Victorian police, paramedics, firefighters and ambulance workers who responded so quickly, selflessly and professionally, but who will carry their own scars of that day too, we are humbled by your service. We offer you all our deepest gratitude.

When I visited the memorial of flowers in the days following the attack, I met with the men and women of the Victoria Police, who work night and day to keep the people of Victoria safe, as do our police and security services, the finest in the world, all around the nation. That Friday afternoon, they took on threats and horrors many of us would find almost unimaginable. They and all of our emergency services deserve our solidarity at all times. They will always have our absolute, unequivocal, total support. To the doctors, nurses and ambulance workers who gave each trauma victim first-class care and treated their families with kindness and compassion, we say thank you.

I know that all of the first responders would expect us to also thank and honour the bystanders in Bourke Street that afternoon for their extraordinary acts of humanity. There was the young man who tried to stop the car before it drove into the crowd. There were staff from local businesses who used their own first aid kits and defibrillators to begin immediate treatment of the injured. There were shopkeepers who offered the public refuge from the fast-moving vehicle. There were those who shaded the injured from the sun and those who were injured but felt their injuries were not as bad as others, so encouraged the ambulance workers to look at the more severely injured first. There was the cabbie, the office workers, the shop assistants and the law student, who set aside their own fear to offer assistance, a reassuring word or the immeasurable comfort of a human touch. These actions illustrated the strength of the human spirit, and which the paramedics, the police and the fireys praised for making their work so much more ably completed.

Our sorrow is tempered by the way Victorians and the Australian people more broadly responded to this senseless act, and that was with love. The community is rallying, contributing to the Bourke Street Fund and offering support through acts of great generosity or words of sympathy, leaving floral and written tributes. That show of solidarity says so much about the people of Melbourne, the people of Victoria and all Australians. I take this moment, as I did in the wake of that shocking crime, to say again to the Premier, the lord mayor and all Victorians: all Australians stand with you as one community as your community heals from this dreadful day.

There are important lessons to learn from this. The Victorian government is examining and reviewing the state's bail laws and processes, as it should. Last year, following the terrorist truck attack in Nice, I tasked the counterterrorism coordinator to review the challenge of protecting places of mass gathering. While the review found that we had largely robust protections in place, it was also clear that more work was required. I have therefore commissioned a national strategy for protecting places of mass gathering, and agencies are working closely on this with the states. This is a very real issue. We saw in Nice what a truck was able to do, and we saw in Melbourne what a simple motor car, a widely available vehicle, was able to do. This protection of places of mass gathering is very a important issue. We cannot ever eliminate all threats. We know that, but it is our first duty as governments, at all levels, to keep Australians safe.

Today our thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, are reserved for the six families, who are learning to live with the loss of their loved ones. There are no words that will ease their pain. But we hope that they will feel the love, support and absolute resolute solidarity of the Australian people. We hope they draw from this the strength they will need as they travel this most difficult of journeys, reconciling themselves with this shocking loss.