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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9917

Mr MARLES (Corio) (11:37): I rise to support this private member's motion and, in saying that, state that now is the time for unity. That is, unity in the face of barbarism and terror. Our world changed on September 11 2001, when terror entered our lives in a way which it has not left since. Every aspect of the way in which we go about our world changed on that day. A month or two ago, I was at Ground Zero in New York. I visited the September 11 memorial, which is a remarkable museum and a remarkable memorial to those who perished on that day in those attacks, a number of whom were Australian citizens.

What we have seen in the last couple of months is perhaps the most unsettling and the most significant development in the situation of terror since September 11. With Islamic State, we are now witnessing a form of terror and form of organisation whose method is brutality and whose method is about putting on display their blood lust and, in the process, seeking to strike terror and fear in the hearts of everyone. The public beheadings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines and many others are amongst the most appalling images that we have seen, as are those images of young children and others holding the heads of soldiers in a manner which is unfathomable to anybody within our society. We live in an age where there are crucifixions being undertaken as a form of terrorising others. This is what we are facing and this is what needs to be contested.

The ideology underpinning all of this is an ideology of intolerance and an ideology that says that their way of looking at the human experience is the only way. As a result, there are indeed many minorities in northern Iraq and in Syria—such as Christian Assyrians, Chaldeans, the Yazidis and Mandeans—who are experiencing the persecution and the death that is being wrought by Islamic State. Australia's international reflex, when faced with a moment of this type, has always been to play our part and to pull our weight. That is what we are doing now in northern Iraq, along with many other countries who are deciding to contest and defeat this brutality. It is important and it is the Australian way to act in this.

It is not only a danger that we face in a global sense in Syria and Iraq but, as we saw last week, this danger is being brought home to our own country and to our own streets. The counter-terrorism operation which we witnessed last week was the single largest in Australia's history. It shows the terror that we are facing globally is a very real terror that we are facing in Australia as well. From that work and the diligence and the professional efforts of those persons working for Australia's counter-terrorism agencies, we as a community and a society should take reassurance that we have the very best of the best looking after our interests and making us safe at home. For that, I thank them.

Labor's disposition in all of this is to support the efforts of the government and to work constructively with the government in a bipartisan way. We want to see the detail of all the measures that are being put forward, as anybody would expect us to do in being elected to this place and fulfilling our role with our own sense of diligence. This is a moment for bipartisanship and to work in cooperation with everyone in this building to do what we can. We are concerned, in saying that, that the humanitarian aid provided to the Middle East has been cut. We do support an intake of 4,400 coming from Syria and Iraq, but we do believe that ought to be in addition to our humanitarian intake. Most of all, we support the work of our personnel in doing the very dangerous work that they are and shouldering the burden of this. (Time expired)