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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14769


Mr KEOGH (Burt) (17:13): I rise today to acknowledge and express my condolences for the tragedy that was the act of horror and terrorism in New Zealand last month, which saw the loss of 50 innocent lives in Christchurch. To the Muslim community in New Zealand: we stand with you. To all of New Zealand: we stand with you. To the Muslim community in Australia and around the world: we stand with you. I also stand in solidarity with members of our local Muslim community and all migrant communities in the electorate of Burt. No part of Australian society, any society, should feel isolated, alone or a target. We must all, as a global community, stand against hate, for it is hate and hate speech that enables and excites these extremists. No act of terror can be ignored, and they should always be condemned.

We must also never blame the victims. Fifty innocent lives were taken when they were at their most vulnerable and in their place of worship due to hate. These lives were taken in an effort to drag the New Zealand and, indeed, in part, the Australian communities apart to create fear. But it did not work, and it will not work. Not only did this horrendous attack bring out the best in community spirit and acceptance; it drew our two nations, always intertwined in history, even closer. Far be it for me as a humble Australian backbencher to commend the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, for her leadership, humanity and compassion. Anyone who knows or has followed the New Zealand Prime Minister's career is not surprised by this. The reason it stands out is that it reflects the view of the wider New Zealand polity. It is such unity of purpose and values that have been sadly missing on our side of the Tasman.

Australia is a wonderful country, and that is significantly due to its generally bipartisan approach to multiculturalism. Ours is a unique approach, like no other in the world. We do not require assimilation where everyone must be the same, nor do we promote ghettoisation or segregation. As the second verse of our national anthem states, we invite those from around the world to share our boundless plains and to continue to celebrate their culture and traditions here in Australia. This is consistent with our core Australian values of freedom and respect—respect for the rule of law, democracy and each other. We are indeed a melting pot of cultures and creeds going back over 65,000 years, because what makes you an Australian is what is here in your heart.

I am proud that in the electorate of Burt we house two mosques, two Islamic schools and the Australian Arab Association headquarters. We also have thriving Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan, African, Polynesian and many other communities. I am so proud to have them all as part of the Burt community and, indeed, the Western Australian and Australian communities. This is a diversity that should be celebrated— and I do celebrate it—along with most others in our community.

I am proud to have had the opportunity to stand alongside my WA Labor colleagues Tony Buti, Terry Healy and the Minister for Community Services, Simone McGurk, at the Masjid Ibrahim mosque in Southern River the weekend before last to offer my condolences to the community and to show my support. This open day also provided an opportunity for non-Muslims to share and learn more about our Muslim community, and it was wonderful to see so many in our community take up that opportunity. It stood in stark contrast to when, during the 2016 election, the two mosques in my electorate, in Thornlie and Southern River, were attacked in the most insulting and terrifying way, for it is our multicultural society that makes our community actually stronger and all the richer. As a multicultural society, we must accept and protect each and every person's right to practice their faith freely and without any form of intimidation or violence, just as we ask them to do the same and as all Australians stand for a fair go.

The weekend after the attack in Christchurch, I spoke at the LiveLighter Arab Festival in Langley Park in Perth's CBD. There had been concern leading up to this event about whether or not the event should go ahead. The organisation and community were concerned about security, but they were more concerned about not being seen to cower to terrorism, hate or fear. They stood strong and continued. Our wider community came together to acknowledge and to celebrate. It was an example of how we should carry on with love of our neighbour, for love will always conquer hate and fear.