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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13952


Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (10:22): Today I rise speak about the events that have taken place in Paris and around the world. Recently, Lady Jane Edwards AM, the Honorary Consul for France in Queensland, held a vigil following the horrifying events on 13 November in Paris, where 129 lives were lost and many more were injured. Thousands of people's lives will never be the same. I pay tribute to my dear friend Lady Jane Edwards for her dedication and her commitment to this important role and for organising such a beautiful vigil in such a short period of time.

The vigil was attended by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Graham Quirk, the Hon. Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk, my colleague the Hon. Bernie Ripoll, member for Oxley and currently the only federal parliamentarian of French background. They all spoke so eloquently. We gathered with thousands of others under the red, white and blue lights that lit up City Hall and King George Square so beautifully.

The French were in mourning and the people of Brisbane mourned with them. Our Story Bridge, City Hall, South Bank, and other local icons were lit up in the colours of the French flag for three days of mourning and to show our support to the thousands of French citizens who call Australia home or who were visiting us from their homeland.

As the darkness descended and silence fell upon the crowd, we imagined for a short moment what it would have been like to be one of the victims in the Bataclan Theatre, the stadium or the beautiful restaurants and bars on the streets of Paris. Marcel Poualion, vice-president of Brisbane's Union of French Citizens Abroad. He said:

Our motherland, the land of freedom, equality and fraternity, is mourning.

She has been painfully hurt in the flesh.

But while we were there to mourn the loss of life from unspeakable evil, the overwhelming mood was not one of fear but one of defiance—defiance, because we will not succumb to the acts of terror witnessed right across the globe. Australia's contribution to the war on terror has been repeatedly stated. We are the biggest contributor to the crisis in the Middle East, second only to the United States. But our efforts abroad have also been matched by our efforts at home, not with the bullet and the bomb, but with the commitment to unity and diversity. Fostering a society in the seat of Brisbane, where many cultures can live harmoniously, is a model to be emulated and one that I am so proud of. Brisbane is one of the most culturally diverse seats in Queensland and it is a point of pride for me.

To the people of France, we mourn with you, we support you, we honour what you bring to our nation. We stand as one. We are one.