Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 20 August 1996
Page: 2672


Senator HILL (Leader of the Government in the Senate)(3.41 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.

Madam President, I certainly wish to associate my government colleagues in the Senate with the sentiments that you have expressed, but I am sure I am able to associate all honourable senators with those sentiments. Yesterday was certainly a very sad day in the history of the Australian political process. We must do our utmost to ensure, as you said, that it is never repeated.

Part of that is ensuring that all Australians understand that we regard the sort of behaviour that occurred yesterday as not only unacceptable but un-Australian. It is not the way in which we seek to progress our democracy. It is not the way in which we seek to win the battle of ideas, which is what this democracy is all about. It can never be tolerated in any shape or form and, if and when it ever occurs, it must be unambiguously and fearlessly condemned. Certainly on behalf of my colleagues I do that.

It was embarrassing to listen to you, Madam President, even talk about overseas visitors in this place yesterday witnessing that sort of occurrence and in fact being embroiled within it. I think what it does demonstrate is that, whilst freedom of speech and freedom of association are so important to us, those of us who do participate within the democracy and organise rallies and demonstrations also have some responsibility to ensure that those who rally and those who demonstrate do so without resorting to violence. I hope the organis ers of yesterday's rally think long and hard about that responsibility as well.

I add my thanks to the police, to the protective services and to those who showed great courage in extremely traumatic circumstances. They were a great credit yesterday to all the Australian people. They should not have had to experience what they did yesterday, to put their own lives at risk—to risk injury or even worse. It should not simply occur within our democratic process.

Madam President, I want to acknowledge also all of those whom you mentioned—the nurses and other officials within this place—who also, in such awful circumstances, behaved magnificently for the benefit of all Australians. They must never again be put in those circumstances.

Madam President, we think of those who were injured. We trust that they will make a speedy recovery. In some ways we symbolically share their hurt.