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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 14152

Mr PASIN (Barker) (20:07): Before I begin my statement on terrorist attacks, I congratulate the member for Deakin for his contribution. He has become a good friend. He is clearly a solid citizen—someone who in this chamber is in pursuit of the national interest and someone I am proud to call a colleague.

Terrorism could not be more antithetical to democracy. The use of force against civilians in order to promote political aims is abhorrent and immoral. As the elected member for Barker, it is trite to say that my job is to represent the views and interests of the people of my electorate in this place. So, with regard to that, I take this opportunity to convey and share the deep sorrow felt by people across my electorate when they heard of the atrocities in Paris—a city which has been visited by terrorists several times this year alone. It is the same sorrow we felt when we lost 88 Australians in the Bali bombings and when we heard the news of attacks in Martin Place and Parramatta. It is the same despondency we all felt when we saw the exploded remains of an iconic double-decker bus and watched as commuters, covered in soot, crawled out of tube stations in London in the wake of the 7/7 bombings. Indeed, the attacks in Paris delivered the same horror that transfixed the world when domestic airliners were flown into the World Trade Centre in the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and New York was consumed by a cloud of dust and ash.

Terrorist attacks rupture the very fabric of our everyday lives. Often our transport networks or places of leisure are targeted by terrorist groups as they attempt to shatter our perception of the safety that civil society facilitates. In Paris, London, Bali, Sydney and New York, terrorists mobilised their forces to attack each and every citizen, because their target was our perception not our reality. Our hearts go out to the families of the dead and the injured and to those others who have been affected by these events for their realities have been irreparably warped by the actions of these criminals.

Each nation has in its time faced a terrorist attack. In the modern world, we all feel the threat posed by terrorists as they rail against modernity while spreading their medieval exploits over modern technologies and socialised media platforms. Across this world, we have seen many groups mobilise terror tactics to instil fear into communities. That feeling of fear is the ultimate weapon in the arsenal of the terrorists, yet their greatest weapon is one which is fundamentally contingent on dislocating our resolve. It is a gamble which will fail. We have seen a rapidly changing world deliver an increasing flow of people, culture and ideas. We live in an increasingly connected world. The internet and mass media have spread information at an unprecedented rate. It is this increasingly globalised and networked world in which we live that lends itself to acts of terror, as terrorists seek to bring their wicked exploits into our homes through our televisions, computers, tablets and phones. It is their intention to fill us with a fear such that we change our way of life and yield them our values. It is an endeavour, as I said, which will ultimately fail. Those merchants of fear have a fundamental weakness: their strategy relies on our capitulation. They will not prevail because we will not bow to their demands.

I stand here in this place today reminded of the strength of such values as freedom and democracy. This building is a symbol of the civil, peaceful and cohesive civilization we have hewn from this wide, brown land we call home. Today we have a free, open and safe society, which fosters equality of opportunity, regardless of race, gender or creed. This country was built on those foundations, as was the republic of France. In many ways, the attacks in Paris have had a profound impact on us here in Australia because we have inherited so much from the French. We share their values of equality and freedom. The French are a passionate and cultured people. They care deeply, love fiercely and enjoy a freedom that they themselves fought for. Their national anthem rejoices in seizing freedom from their tyrannical oppressors. The French have always remained as committed to the ideals of freedom and democracy as the Australian people have. Not only do we share such values; we also share much history.

While Australians have enjoyed freedom for well over a century, we too have fought to keep our society liberated from domination. The fields of France hold many young Australians who fought during two world wars to liberate France from the clutches of tyranny and to keep the evils of fascism at bay. In the town of Villers-Bretonneux there is a sign in their local school which reads: 'Never Forget Australia'. Young Australians helped liberate that town from the Germans during the First World War and the people of that town continue to remember that contribution, notwithstanding that some 100 years have passed since that time. Now we face a great tyranny. We face a religious tyranny in the form of Islamic extremism. This religious tyranny is seeking to subjugate our free society through casting a haze of fear over our nations in the same perverted way that it has destabilised Islamic communities across the Middle East. As in the 20th century, when the democratic nations came together to defeat fascism and communism, we must now rally together once more and cast this religious extremism back into the abyss.

Australia stands with all those around this world who seek to live a free and peaceful life. We support their right to freedom and will continue to do our bit to destroy the spectre of terrorism. Democracy is, indeed, a great project, the product of thousands of years of social progress. It is in the face of that project that we see agents of darkness seeking to pull us back toward their medieval world view. We cannot afford to take a backward step as we face their barbarity.

Ultimately, they are cowards. They attack everyday people going about their everyday business, because they are devoid of the capacity to take their fight to our security forces. They take fear-reducing drugs to suppress their anxieties; such is the weakness of their commitment to their cause. Indeed, these terrorists fear our capable security services who stand eternally vigilant, ready to dispatch their duty. Whilst we may not be able to stop all acts of terrorism, it is imperative that we mitigate terrorism's effects through a resolute and unshakable commitment to our way of life, to our values and to our Australian culture. We must always remember how terrorism, as a manipulative tool, works and understand that if we redouble our commitment to building a stronger and more prosperous Australia and put freedom at its heart we simply cannot be defeated.

I am amazed to realise that there have been some 298 terrorist attacks across the world thus far this year in France, Nigeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, China, Ukraine, Israel, the Philippines, Denmark, Japan, India, Russia and, indeed, here in Australia. We have seen beheadings, suicide bombings, shootings, arsons, immolations, crucifixions, eviscerations and stabbings. We have even seen rocket and vehicle attacks. Just yesterday, a bus filled with presidential guards was bombed in Tunisia, killing 12. In 2015 there has been much violence in the name of religious tyranny, and yet I stand unafraid. I remain resolute in my undying commitment to the values of freedom and democracy, as do my constituents in Barker and, indeed, the people of this great nation.

I stand in our cathedral of democracy in which we can, and often do, disagree with each another, but we do not resort to violence. I am part of a liberal tradition which has long fought to conserve the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, defending freedom of speech and freedom of association. This nation is one which stands against violence against civilians in all its forms. I stand with all those people around the world that refuse to bow down and submit to this new tyranny. Australia stands with the people of Paris. We stand with the people of London, the people of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, the people of Syria, the people of Israel, the people of the Philippines, the people of Denmark and the people of the Ukraine in the face of these acts of terror. Those agents of darkness cannot shake our fundamental belief in freedom. They cannot alter the course of democracy nor our desire to build a better world.

I again would like to take this opportunity to convey my deepest sorrow to all those across our world who have felt the effects of the acts of these terrorists. The Paris attacks sent shock waves around the world, and yet the response has bound us together. The collective grief of the world has been triggered, yet so too has a recommitment to the project of freedom. I am reminded of the words of Billy Bragg in his revision of the English translation of The Internationale, and I will quote it in fear that those opposite will always refer to me as 'comrade'; I will take the risk:

Freedom is merely privilege extended

Unless enjoyed by one and all

We remain a tolerant, multiracial society with a strong Australian culture. I am proud to be part of that democratic society and know that those wicked people who resort to mobilising terrorism to fight freedom will ultimately fail. Our resolve is concrete, our values firm, our actions decisive and, ultimately, our retribution will be swift.