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Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Page: 8029


Senator HUME (VictoriaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (19:34): It is with great sadness that I tonight reflect on the horrific tragedy that occurred in Bourke Street in Melbourne just last week. This is not the first time that such an attack has struck Melbourne; in fact, this is the third such incident I have spoken of in this chamber in the three short years that I've been here. Despite this, nothing could possibly have prepared us for what unfolded on Friday, when a man crazed with irrational hatred and hell-bent on destruction set fire to a vehicle and embarked on a stabbing spree before being obstructed by courageous bystanders and finally shot by Victoria Police. This man, whose name I will not dignify by mentioning it in this chamber—because he does not deserve to be recorded in Hansard and thus in history—injured two people and succeeded in taking the life of another, Sisto Malaspina.

Since last Friday, much has been said about Sisto Malaspina. His Bourke Street restaurant, Pellegrini's, is a Melbourne institution. His contribution to Melbourne and the lives of so many Melburnians was profound. Pellegrini's has stood at the corner at the top end of Bourke Street for nearly half a century. Sisto and his co-owner, Nino Pangrazio, were regular faces behind the counter. They were never rushed and never too busy for a smile or a ciao, and certainly not for a cup of coffee. As it has for many other native Melburnians, Pellegrini's has featured in moments of my life, some seminal and others prosaic. As a truly awkward teenager I went to Pellegrini's on my first ever date, after seeing Amadeus at the Greater Union Cinema down the road. I was desperate to look mature, so I ordered a cup of coffee, which was just so bitter. What I really wanted was a watermelon granita. That in fact was my children's favourite, along with spaghetti carbonara, which we would always have together each year after our annual visit to the Myer Christmas windows. In fact, I was last at Pellegrini's only three weeks ago, grabbing a late lunch of Pellegrini's ravioli after a Liberal Women's Council meeting, which, of course, requires comfort food afterwards. I sought shelter from the Melbourne rain at the counter in Pellegrini's. Sisto was there that day, as he was every other day.

When you read the tributes in the newspapers or on social media, you soon realise that Sisto's welcoming presence—he was so reliable and so predictable—was as much a part of the fabric of our city as the Flinders Street Station clocks, the Block Arcade, the MCG, the Nylex Clock, Phar Lap at the museum or a W-class tram. This small, busy restaurant and its happy, generous, big-hearted proprietor will forever remain part of the folklore of my beautiful and colourful city. So my heart goes out to the family and friends of Sisto Malaspina. I want to particularly acknowledge his business partner of more than 50 years, Nino Pangrazio, a man I have personally known and admired outside and beyond the doors of Pellegrini's for 20 years. Nino, your loss is so profound. So, to you and the Pellegrini's family, thank you for your beautiful and dignified response to this tragedy. Your grief is our grief and your pain is our pain.

There are some, including the Premier of Victoria, who believe that acts like this must be accepted as part of contemporary Australia. I find such resignation unforgivable and insulting to those who selflessly risked their own lives to save the lives of others. Footage of the incident shows a courageous bystander approaching the attacker with a kerbside restaurant chair and distracting him while police regrouped. And who will ever forget the sight of Michael Rogers, who aided police by gallantly flinging a shopping trolley at the attacker? This civilian defiance and courage in the face of extraordinary, unpredictable danger suggests to me that acts like this that seek to spread terror and fear in our citizenry—acts of unspeakable violence like those my city has now been subject to three times in two years—will never be accepted as part of contemporary Australia. So I do not accept Premier Daniel Andrews's defeat. That's not my Melbourne and that's not my Australia. Sisto Malaspina's name will live on in the rich history of Melbourne, as will the indomitable spirit of Melburnians, and the name of his attacker will soon be forgotten.