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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14742

Ms STANLEY (Werriwa) (12:20): I would like to rise with all other members in this place to personally add my condolences to the 50 victims—men, women and children—who lost their lives in the Christchurch attacks. You should have been safe in your place of peaceful worship. It should not have happened, especially at the hands of an Australian citizen. This attack was as cowardly as it was horrific, targeting worshippers at their most vulnerable. I especially offer my condolences to those families who have been directly impacted by this unspeakable act. Since the attack, I've been invited to speak at vigils and services within the Islamic community in my electorate. The community is visibly shaken but the dominant theme within the speeches at these events has been how things can be better if we move forward together as one community and one family.

I would like to use the remainder of this speech today to reflect on the social conditions that ensure that extremism and terrorism have no place in our society. What we need to say is: words matter; actions matter; responses matter. What happened in Christchurch targeted some of us but it actually happened to all of us. And, as awful as the perpetrator's actions were, our focus must remain only on helping and supporting those impacted by the attack. Let's look to the good, and let's come together and support not only the community members in Christchurch and New Zealand, more than 2,000 kilometres away, but also our friends and neighbours here in our own communities.

Some of the residents of my electorate have been directly impacted by the Christchurch tragedy. I especially acknowledge my constituents who lost loved ones in the mosque and provide my most sincere condolences to them. When I was at the Green Valley Mosque open day a couple of Sundays ago, a woman who, like me, is a mother and a grandmother relayed to me that her son should have been at the mosque that day for prayers. He was there most Fridays; however, fate intervened. A late work meeting meant that he was running late and was not in the mosque when the firing began. This woman was still visibly shaken by these events. She told me of the anxious wait for a phone call, and the relief she felt when it came from her son and not the police—and then the guilt about those people who got a phone call from the police. So many families were not spared that terrible phone call.

Since the Christchurch attack, members of my community have been subjected to threats and actions that are, at their best, un-Australian and, at their worst, illegal. I will not detail them in this place; however, I do thank the police of the Liverpool City Police Area Command for their leadership and support for those communities that have been affected by these threats. Terrorism relies on fear, relies on mistrust and relies on demonising another. Let us stop all those things now and embrace each other with love and support. Remember the good things that come out of tragedies like this. Remember the police, the paramedics and the bystanders who, in the face of fear and uncertainty, still went towards the danger to assist those who were injured and killed. This is our humanity. This is the way we support each other.

The way we speak matters. Words should be used wisely. Consider carefully what is said. Racism and hate, and whatever other names they go by, are wrong, because we are all the same. Those affected by these attacks are all of us and they are one of us. We all love the same. We all love our families, our children, our parents and our friends. We are all more the same than not. I want to reiterate my condolences to each of the victims, their families and the people of New Zealand.