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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14742

Mr HOGAN (PageDeputy Speaker) (12:17): The alleged perpetrator of this terrorist attack was from my community, so we were all as devastated as anyone but even more so because he came from our community. On the Monday after the attack there were two events that happened in Grafton that were very important to me and to many members of our community. Firstly, Judy Hackett and a group organised and made 50 hearts made of flowers, and they were laid on the hill at Memorial Park. Then, later that night, there was a vigil that was held at the local Anglican cathedral. It was open to everybody; it was open to people of all faiths and all religions, atheist or agnostic. These were the events that really represented who the true people of Grafton and the Clarence Valley are.

That act in Christchurch was an act of evil. It was an act that was meant to, as all terrorist acts are meant to, divide us. It was an act that wanted to turn religion against religion, race against race and people against people. But it won't succeed, and I see continually, as I saw that day in the community of Grafton and the Clarence Valley and many, many examples since, the goodness of who we are. When people are in need—drought, flood, illness—the community has always acted in a sense of goodwill to each other. Religious teachings and many philosophies always tell us that love will always overcome evil. At the vigil, I prayed for the Islamic and wider community of Christchurch, and I prayed for our community—the community of Grafton and the Clarence Valley. I also prayed for the family of the alleged perpetrator, because the grandmother, the mother and the sister are not guilty of the sins of the grandson, son or brother.

The mayor of the Clarence Valley is also going to visit Christchurch with a book of condolences that has had some very heartfelt things written in it about that terrible, terrible attack. But I just want to say to everyone: while that attack was an act of evil, it does not represent who and what we are. The community of the Clarence Valley and the community of Grafton have shown a lot of acts of love and peace since then, and I pray for all involved.