(d) stands in solidarity with the people of Christchurch—Adelaide's sister city—New Zealand, and South Australia's Muslim community;
(e) condemns terrorism and extremism in all its forms; and
(f) reaffirms its commitment to an inclusive and harmonious multicultural society.
Since my election to this house, I have visited New Zealand on several occasions. I have done so particularly to learn more about New Zealand and their economic recovery. On every occasion, I have been welcomed as a friend by a nation prepared to share the reasons for its economic success with others.
That is New Zealand: a society that is open, a society that is generous and a society that has respect for all people. Like Australia, it is a nation prepared to offer many people from elsewhere the opportunity for a better life, but it is a society now having to deal with an act of unimaginable horror, an act so despicable as to be beyond any comprehension whatsoever, an act showing utter contempt for innocent human life.
Yet, out of what New Zealand's Prime Minister has called her nation's darkest day, has come another lesson. The calm, firm, courageous resolve of Jacinda Ardern shines a light for us all on how political extremism in all its forms must be confronted and condemned, not by expressions of hate and lust for revenge but by remaining comfortable with diversity and determination that the extremists will not turn people against each other as they seek support for their depraved ways. Out of the very worst in human instinct, in her response, the Prime Minister has demonstrated the very best of humanity. We stand in solidarity with her, Adelaide's sister city Christchurch, all New Zealanders and people everywhere of the Islamic faith.
This is not the first time in recent years that the people of Christchurch have been sorely tested. We all remember the terrible earthquake of just eight years ago and how resilient that city has been in its determination to recover and rebuild. Now our sister city is challenged by tragedy again. There may have been fewer victims this time, but this was no indiscriminate act of nature: it targeted men, women and children in their place of worship.
As we grieve with Christchurch, we have reached out to our sister city to offer any support it needs and we are able to provide. What happened on Friday is a reminder to us all that terrorism can occur anywhere and at any time, even in the most peaceful and compassionate of places. We must all be vigilant and alert and remain true to our values.
The devastating ramifications of the act of evil, the act of terror, the act of violence that occurred in Christchurch on Friday last week have been felt far beyond New Zealand's shores. On Sunday evening, I attended, at the invitation of Ahmed Zreika, a vigil at the mosque on Marion Road. I did this to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community here in South Australia. I wanted to send a very strong message that the government, the parliament and the people of South Australia stand with the Muslim community in our state as they try to understand the horror of what occurred on Friday.
What I heard in the various speeches that were made by the Muslim community in South Australia was not talk of revenge or hatred but of tolerance, diversity and respect for diversity here in our state. It was a very uplifting set of speeches from Muslim leaders in South Australia. We have much to learn from our Muslim community in South Australia. I commend the motion to the house.
Mr MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Leader of the Opposition) (11:06): I would like to thank the Premier for moving the motion. I take great pleasure in being able to second the motion and to speak to it. The Premier referred, quite rightly, to the unique relationship that the City of Adelaide has with the City of Christchurch. Indeed, in an official sense, that sister city relationship has existed for 47 years. We have seen that relationship evolve over time in a number of ways.
Certainly, it has been the case that there have been cultural exchanges. We have seen exchanges occur on the basis of education, with literally hundreds of primary school students from our state taking part in exchange visits with Christchurch students. We have seen deep economic connections between our city and our state and Christchurch with South Australian businesses for over 20 years, through delegations to and from the city of Christchurch in conjunction with their Chamber of Commerce. Examples of that include the old Perry Engineering site at Mile End having workers who exchanged with Mace Engineering in Christchurch around the Anzac Frigate build and, of course, there have been cultural exchanges as well. So for that reason, amongst others, the motion is appropriate.
There is also another element to consider in the context of our state in the fact that our state, probably unlike many others, has a long history with the Islamic community. The first Muslim mosque built in this nation was in South Australia in Marree, in our state's Far North, where from 1861—1861, Mr Speaker—religious traditions of the Islamic faith have been observed by the Afghan camel drivers. We have also seen the first significant mosque in any Australian city be built in 1888, that being the great Adelaide Mosque in Gilbert Street—an incredible tradition unrivalled in our federation.
When we think about the Islamic faith in the context of what occurred last Friday, it helps us grasp why the events are so shocking. It is because all of us in this place—and I think the overwhelming majority of South Australians who have familiarity with the Islamic faith—understand that the Islamic faith is one of compassion and love. It teaches those themes not just to other Muslims but indeed to every human being. The whole underlying idea of Islamic morality is that of love, and of course the word 'Islam' originates from the word 'peace'. The truth is that Islam is consistent with the best traditions of everything that our state and our country believe.
The Premier is right: what happened on Friday is truly sickening. It was so deliberate. The violence was truly savage. It was aimed at innocent, peaceful people, and the raw nature of injustice makes it hard for it not to have an impact on one's heart. I think it can put hate in your heart and, in many regards, that is a human response that we must be alive to.
When you think about the events that happened last week, it is interesting to think about why they are so newsworthy, because when thinking people—as all of us here aspire to be—challenge ourselves to contemplate the events that occurred in Christchurch last week, in many ways those events were not too dissimilar to what we also see on the news every now and then. Deliberate acts of violence targeted at a particular minority in one particular country, which are aimed at peaceful people, which result in multiple deaths, do occur, sadly all too frequently, but they do not always capture the attention in the way that this Christchurch massacre has captured the attention of our state and the world generally, and I think we should challenge ourselves to think about why.
When I do that, and when we all collectively do that, I think one of the reasons that we may be drawn towards why this has captured so many people's attention throughout the world is the place in which it occurred, because New Zealand and Australia are not too dissimilar in being places in the world that have not fallen foul of the intolerance and polarisation and the sense of division that seem to have intoxicated so many other countries around the world, including other countries that we would normally be compared with.
The UK is being torn apart at the seams over Brexit. France and western Europe are clearly going through massive troubles with the yellow vests. In eastern Europe, nationalistic governments are not just forming but have waves of popularism behind them, and then of course in the US we see an extraordinary state of division and polarisation best embodied by the now President of the United States, an office that we used to attribute to being 'the leader of the free world'.
Here in our little pocket of the globe, our little quadrant, we have not had that, and I think we really have been a source of hope and inspiration for the rest of the world. When violence comes to our own shores, despite our commitment to multiculturalism, it shocks everybody. It hurts us at home, but it shocked the whole world, and I think it presents a very substantial test for us. Are we going to respond to the events in Christchurch with the emotions that I felt on Sunday in the lead-up to thinking about the vigil that the Premier and I attended—those emotions of hate and anger—or do we rise to the test and instead respond with other things that are far more powerful: the virtues of compassion, hope and love?
I had the pleasure of being with the Premier on Sunday night at that event, and I think all of us who were there would attest to the fact that we are going to pass this test, no problems, because on Sunday night there was a cross-section of our community from multiple faiths, multiple ethnicities and people of no faith at all, really coming together to rally behind not just the Islamic community but the idea of multiculturalism in our society.
It is a virtue that transcends all politics, and it is one that has been accepted, I think, by both sides of politics: it is supported by everyone in this house. For those reasons, amongst others, I think multiculturalism in this nation has a prosperous future. Despite the remarks of Senator Anning in the federal parliament, the truth is that this has always been and always will be an immigrant nation.
Fraser Anning cannot claim lineage of over 40,000 years. To the best of my knowledge, unfortunately nor can anyone else in this chamber, which means we are all immigrants and must do everything we can to ensure multiculturalism not just survives but thrives. This means that the next immigrant who comes to this nation is looked at not just with tolerance but with wholehearted compassion.
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (11:15): I support the motion. I cannot overestimate the significance of a motion such as this and why it is so important that we stand beside our sister city of Christchurch: for the people of that city, and indeed the whole of New Zealand, in the pain that they are currently suffering; for those who are currently tending to the wounds of those who have been injured; and for those families and loved ones of the 50 innocent men, women and children who were slaughtered in the events of last Friday. These are adults who will never again see their partners, they are people who will not see their children grow up and they are children who will not grow up, all as a result of being peacefully in prayer at a time when their only guilt was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As grotesque an act as this has been, in respect of the killing by one person, and as puzzling and as distressing as this is for us, it is important to remember the innocence of the victims to appreciate what has happened. It is important that we stand beside our colleagues and the people in Christchurch during this difficult time and wish those who are injured a full recovery. Some will live with the scars of this forever. We need to send a very clear sign to the civilised world on the matters that the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have both acknowledged, that is, the importance of our countries having been built on a diversity which has given us strength and advancement.
This has been a callous act of murder—multiple murder. Whilst I look with some interest at the question about whether the offender in this case is charged with murder or other terrorist offences, the significance of this should not be underestimated. In my view, there has been murder. Certainly, there will be aspects of this case that identify questions about the mental competence of the person involved, the circumstances in which this has developed and his attempt to place it on social media and gain attention for himself. There will be questions about whether the police did or did not know about this. These are all the aspects that go with being confronted by a senseless murder and questions then being asked.
It is difficult to imagine, when we go through the sorrow stage to the blame stage, how we are going to get through this, but we are here with New Zealand to assist them and support them to do that. It is a country which, on the face of it, has not been plagued with the same level of terrorism that even Australia has faced in recent decades, and therefore we ought to be extending a hand both to the Prime Minister and the members of the opposition and their parliament, who will face the inevitable questions and considerations of gun laws. They themselves have had inquiries into these matters. Again, they will have to draw a line in the sand and carefully consider how they might deal with it.
When they do, I invite them to look to Australia and consider what we in Australia had to face post the Martin Bryant massacre at Port Arthur in Tasmania. I think most people, even if they were not around at the time, would know of this circumstance. It changed the face of Australia. It changed the face of our gun laws. I did not always agree with everything John Howard did, but I can tell you that I have repeatedly commended his bravery in going around the country and standing up in relation to gun laws that related to repeat weapons and saying, 'This must change.' There were riots in country regions, and there were great concerns about what was going to occur, but he did stand up to that. It can be done.
I say that to the Prime Minister of New Zealand: there can be change to accommodate this. We need to support them to do that.
Dr CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (11:19): Too often over the course of my adult life I have had occasion to be moved by the death of people I do not know. As my leader said, people die all the time in violent circumstances, but when we contemplate a mass killing motivated by hate there is something profound in all of us that responds to that tragedy. The overwhelming sense is of grief and of sympathy for those directly affected: those who died, those who are injured, their families and all the community that was under attack collectively.
In many ways, this was a senseless tragedy, yet it was not without context. It was perpetrated by a monster, not a fictional one but a human one, a human monster who in fact grew up on our shores. He holds the entire responsibility for what occurred, but we cannot allow ourselves to not ask the deeper questions about the environment in which this hate and intolerance have become so strong in various parts of our world and from which we are not immune. While we grieve, we must understand how we can be active in challenging those messages of hatred, in challenging those messages of saying that certain people, by virtue of their grouping, do not belong, are not equal and have no merit.
All the blame is attached to action, but there is a moral weight to words and to ideas. As a nation in the great Australasian family, we must consider the complicity in the way in which some of our leadership in the community and politically can facilitate and encourage that level of hatred and intolerance. There is a quote that I believe originated with Dr King—if not, he certainly made it very well known—about the arc of history being long but bending towards justice. President Obama has also expressed that concept of a sense that life eventually gets better, even when you see great injustice on the path. I think Dr King came from a position of an expression of his faith. I would not speak for President Obama, but it may have been a combination of his faith in his god and his faith in humanity.
I have always been very attracted to the idea that we live in a world where, although we go back and forth, largely we get better, more progressive, more compassionate, more open. When I spend time with young people I can allow myself to feel that that is true, but we cannot allow that to translate into complacency about our culture, our country, our state. There is no historical determinism, as some of my progressive comrades ideologically in the past may have felt. There is only the action that we take individually and collectively.
We must find a way to not be passive in our celebration of cultural, linguistic and faith diversity. It is not enough to say that we are a multicultural nation. We have to demonstrate that that is something to be celebrated and that people who are critical and full of hate cannot have their words and ideas go unchallenged by us.
On Saturday night, several members of parliament and I attended a magnificent ceremony celebrating young Muslim students who had gone through year 12 at the end of last year and who had done extremely well. It was such a bringing together of how we are all feeling in this chamber today: a sense of absolute pride and joy in these magnificent young people, who had done so extraordinarily well, but a sombreness and almost inexpressible sympathy for their feeling that because of their faith they were not welcomed and not loved. Everything we can do to tell them that they are, and everything, importantly, that we can do to challenge those people who dare say that they are not is exactly what it is to be in public life, and we all need to step up to it.
The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (11:25): The parliament has a feeling of weight upon itself today when we confront an issue such as this for several reasons. I think the onus on us all is to reflect on our relationship with the people of Christchurch, Adelaide's sister city, and the people of New Zealand. The Leader of the Opposition made the point, 'Why is it that this feels so much closer to home than other tragedies in so many other places?' It is that we have such a shared history with the people of not just New Zealand but Christchurch in particular.
I remember so many people who came here to Adelaide after the earthquake to spend some time in our educational institutions while institutions in New Zealand were rebuilding. There is that shared history and sense of understanding of each other. 'If it can happen in Christchurch then it can happen here' is a genuinely concerning fear that I think many people have expressed.
In the act of horror which has been identified and which we are responding to today, we also have a sense that there is a group in our community—individuals within that community—who already sometimes feel alienated and isolated, feel themselves victims of racial or religious oppression or acts of isolation. That community in South Australia need our support at this time, when they see people not unlike themselves worshipping in a mosque in Christchurch and being attacked in such a way. It is important for our parliament to identify their needs and support them at this time.
There is a third group that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition identified that I would also like to talk about in particular, and that is young people in our community—young people of Islamic faith and young people not of Islamic faith in our community—because their future is our future on both fronts. The young people of Islamic faith need our reassurance, our support and our love. Young people not of Islamic faith we of course meet in our schools every day, and the diversity that they grow up with defines who they are. Their understanding of not just tolerance but of celebration of the multicultural community they live in and the opportunities that gives them is tremendously important.
For all those reasons, it is very encouraging that the parliament has suspended other business until we can talk about this a little bit and make sure that we send a strong message to our community as we not only confront the issues in Christchurch that have horrified us but also contemplate how they impact on our community, how we celebrate those good things in our community and how we celebrate the diversity and multiculturalism in our community so that that can help as being our ballast as a community to grow and continue to grow.
Words have been used in relation to the shooter and people who feel the way that he does—words like 'hate', 'intolerance' and 'anger', and it is completely understandable that they are. The concept that one person is less a human being than another person is in my view the root of where every evil act starts, going back to mass killings, going back to genocide, going back to war. The idea that one group of people is somehow more human, more chosen, more special than another group of people and that another group of people is less than human is abhorrent to me and I think it is abhorrent to our community. But that is where evil begins: the placing of oneself as a better species than another. We are all humans, and we must share this earth and share it well.
Instead, our parliament stands firm, and we call for love and we call for justice when there is an atrocity. But we call for love in our community, and we call for the celebration of diversity. The things that our Muslim community in South Australia does are significant, going back to the 19th century when they helped build modern South Australia to what it is. In particular, I think the contribution made by Muslims in South Australia today, the people we meet in our lives and the way they contribute to our community, is also significant.
In public life, we get invitations to celebrate Iftar dinners with Muslim families or Muslim schools, to celebrate festivals of Eid, to get an understanding of the beautiful story of Ramadan and what that fasting and sacrifice mean to an individual as they operate in our society. These invitations are privileges and I think having an understanding of each other, our background and the stories of our antecedents is important.
As our children grow up and visit the schools, as many do, I think we can have great confidence that they are talking to each other. They do not see the veil of hatred in the classroom and the schoolyard or even the fear of the unknown that may have pervaded so many former generations. That is to be encouraged. I do not think there are many young people in our schools who have that same experience, but it does exist.
Muslims are not just community leaders; Muslims are our children, our workmates, and they are in our communities and contributing greatly. I remember when I had one trainee in my electorate office who was a refugee from Africa. The story that keeps coming back to me when I think of his contribution in our office is that two people, at different times, asked him on the phone if he was a Muslim and did not want to speak to him as a consequence of that. We must confront that at every turn and we must understand that there is still hatred and intolerance in our community. It behoves us all, as community leaders, to always speak up and not be a bystander when that occurs.
I continue to give my commitment that I will seek to do that in my role as a community leader. We must seek to educate, share compassion, share understanding and not be blind to the challenges but celebrate the strengths in our society. That is why in my speech today I focus on the strengths in our community and the optimism for the future. There is good reason for optimism, but we must also be vigilant and ever searching for justice.
We stand today with the victims and we pray for their speedy recoveries if they have been injured. We understand that they and their families have been affected and the families of those who are lost deserve our remembrance and our sorrow. The state of South Australia will continue to stand with the people of New Zealand but also with those South Australians in our community who feel isolated or alienated in any way. To those who have ever felt the victim of racial discrimination, the very strong message from this parliament is that you are welcome in this state and we are lucky to have you.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS (West Torrens) (11:32): I commend all the speakers who have come before me and I commend all of those who will come after me. I am assured that in this parliament there will be unanimous agreement on this sentiment we are all about to express of our horror about what occurred in Christchurch at two mosques, the Al Noor and Linwood.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to be preparing for prayer, only to hear gunshots at the door. I take my children to church every week, as my father took me. It is a solemn tradition in our family. We go to worship and we go to pray. My kids often get bored, run around and do not really want to do the observance, and I try to keep them quiet for everyone else. It never occurs to me that they will not be safe in a church. It does not occur to me that they might be in danger if they are outside playing with the other kids. It is a safe place where we go to think, where we go to pray, where we go to console a loved one, maybe at a funeral, or celebrate a wedding.
Mosques are no different. These people were attending prayer on Friday and preparing for it communally, as they always do, never even considering that it would not be safe. I can imagine the same scenario in a household such as mine when my father would say to me, 'Come on, get ready, let's take the kids to church.' How many grandparents on Friday in Christchurch were nagging their children to bring their grandchildren with them to mosque to learn their traditions and to pray, not to lose who they are and their identity in a new country?
They wanted to adapt and become New Zealanders but also maintain their faith and their traditions from their former country, only to find that they had put their grandchild at risk because a madman, who had been radicalised on the internet, decided that he would murder people because of their ethnicity and their faith. Imagine the feeling of knowing the danger that they were in.
I cannot begin to contemplate what made this man feel as if what he was doing was just, but he was not born that way. Growing up in Australia, reading the same newspapers that we read, going to the same types of schools that we all go to, he became radicalised. He may have been alone—
Mrs Power: Maybe he got the 'Can you trust Habib' flyer.
The SPEAKER: The member for Elder is called to order.
The Hon. A. KOUTSANTONIS: Maybe he saw something on the internet that triggered something. Whatever it was, social media needs to take greater responsibility for what it is that they allow to be published on their websites. The idea that this could be a live broadcast on Facebook and still available on some YouTube channels is horrific. It is horrific to the memory of the families and it is horrific in its impact on the victims and other people. I think when there is this type of darkness in the world, we need to unite to ensure that there is one common response from all political leaders. Thus far, we have had it. Thus far, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have been as one. Thus far, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have been as one. Hopefully, this parliament will be as one, and I am sure it will.
The idea that this could occur in Australia may be surprising to a lot of us, but I have visited the Coptic Orthodox Church in Cowandilla. The door to their main place of worship is basically on the footpath. When I visited them for one of their feast days, I was shocked at the level of anxiety that they felt at the potential for danger. I am sure this is going through the minds of Islamic communities across Australia as well, thinking about the security of their places of worship.
I think it is important that we say to all of them with one voice that their places of worship are secure, and it is all of our responsibility. All South Australians take this issue very, very seriously. We take seriously the issue of making people safe in their places of worship and safe in the places where we gather as communities—whether it is a park, a festival, a school, a church or a mosque—and we do all we can to let people know that the South Australian community will not tolerate this type of intolerance in any way.
The South Australian Islamic community has done an excellent job since this terrible shooting, but also previously. South Australia is a very tolerant and accepting community. I think the current Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide is a person of the Islamic faith, and that is not only a credit to him and his family but a credit to the people and constituents of the City of Adelaide. I agree with George Megalogenis that, as new waves of migration come through and integration and acceptance occur, that is occurring at a faster rate today than it did previously.
I think it took longer for the Irish to assimilate than it took for the Greeks and Italians to be accepted. Assimilation is probably the wrong term. I think the Vietnamese communities and the South-East Asian communities that migrated in the 1970s were accepted a lot faster, although that caused some angst and some political dog whistling. But every wave gets better and better and better, and we are a richer country for it.
I leave this condolence motion in the parliament with this thought: I think no child who has a sense of what occurred in Christchurch can find any way to rationalise that in their mind, but I bet you there are some adults, even in Australia, who are rationalising it in their minds. This is a case where the children have it right: there is no way of rationalising this. This is not payback. This is in no way acceptable.
The comments from Fraser Anning and his ilk are so offensive and hurtful to those communities. The question for us as a society and as a western liberal democracy is: how is it that the man who holds those views, who received 19 votes, sits in our nation's parliament, yet no-one growing up in Australia can possibly rationalise his thoughts as being anything any Australian should hold? Whether we are prepared to stand up to that type of intolerance and whether we are prepared to call it out are tough questions for our democracy. I think the Leader of the Opposition is right in saying that we have passed that test here in this state and will continue to pass that test. The question is whether the rest of the world is.
The Hon. D.G. PISONI (Unley—Minister for Industry and Skills) (11:41): I thank the Premier for moving the motion and the Leader of the Opposition for seconding the motion, and those who have spoken so far. Mr Speaker, in my observation over my 50-odd years in life, respect derives through reputation—like yours, for example, as the Speaker: the Speaker has a reputation of having respect—or is earned through relationships. I reflect on some of the stories that my father told me of when he arrived from Italy in 1952 to a very different Australia from the one we have today. It was a very Anglo monoculture where you could only buy olive oil at the pharmacy for medicinal purposes. Imagine that today.
At first, there was an enormous intolerance for those Greeks and Italians. They were often confused with who they were. There is a saying, 'Una faccia, una razza,' which means, 'One face, one race.' They were not accepted until Australians learned that they were no different from those who were born and bred here from the English stock who had been here for 100-odd years. That was through relationships: relationships in the workplace, relationships on the sporting field, relationships in the community.
The irony of what happened in New Zealand is that that is exactly what the Muslim community were doing in New Zealand: they were building relationships with the broader community. They had an open day late last year and, from what I understand, this terrorist went to that open day at those mosques to case the place, to work out where the exits were and to work out when the greatest number of people were there so that he could plan his attack on that community.
It is a sad indictment on that act of giving of their culture in opening their mosques to the general community in order to remove some of those barriers that were there either by perception or as real barriers in the general community. I think when you are a member of parliament, you are exposed to many more communities and groups than when you are not. We know, as members of parliament, how friendly and loving the Muslim community is in South Australia because we are exposed to them; we have relationships with them.
Unfortunately, for many people, the only relationships they have with minority communities, particularly ones they do not know or have not experienced themselves personally, are what they see on social media, and of course we all know about fake news. It is time that all of us, as leaders, call out dog whistling when we see it and that we call out ignorance when we see it. We do not need to be rude about it. We can simply say, 'I do not think you are right in making that claim.' It is every leader's responsibility to do that, and that is something I have been doing and will continue to do. I encourage other members of the community to do the same.
South Australia is the state and community it is today because we opened our doors after the Second World War. The catchcry was 'Populate or perish'. We still had the White Australia Policy. I think my father just scraped in. I think after he had been a week at Glenelg, he might not have got in after the tan, and that is how specific the White Australia Policy was. It did not matter where you came from; it was about how you looked as to whether you got through.
I think we should be proud as a nation of how far we have come and how broad we are as a multicultural community, and we are the most successful in the world and we should not be embarrassed about that. We are the most successful multicultural community in the world. We are a culturally wealthy country and we are an economically wealthy country because we said yes to multiculturalism and immigration.
The Hon. S.C. MULLIGHAN (Lee) (11:47): I commend the Premier's motion to the house for us to reflect on this horrific incident last week in Christchurch. We were all deeply shocked at the news of the massacre last Friday.
While it means a lot to many, it means a lot to us. Our countries, of course, are geographically close. But more than that, we are very close in our shared histories, the people of New Zealand and Australia. Our experience is very similar as British colonies on the far-flung antipodean ends of the earth in the 1700s and onwards. Our experiences are very much shared in supporting each other in the war efforts pursued by the British Empire, most notably establishing the ANZAC tradition. More recently, our experience is shared as a growing, thriving multicultural community on both sides of the ditch, as we might express it. Our experience has been shared as we have sought respectively to carve out our places in what has been an increasingly complex and globalised world.
As we have had more than one member already remark to the house, Adelaide and Christchurch are sister cities, and we have shared much since that sister city relationship was established—and other members might know this better than I—in 1986, if not earlier, at least over decades ago.
But today we share the horror of that most awful incident, which occurred less than a week ago. The circumstances are deeply shocking. As the member for West Torrens said, what could be more shocking than this, already a most shocking incident, than for it to occur in a place of worship, where people were going about their day, seeking to better express or come closer to those important tenets of their religion—tenets of love, of compassion, of justice, of acceptance—and for this act to occur amongst those people in such a sacred place.
It is awful to have to reflect not only on those individuals' experiences—those people who were killed, of course, and those people who were injured—but on all those other people who were immediately affected by the incident last Friday: those victims' families, their friends, their loved ones, their colleagues, their acquaintances, all of them directly touched by this act of terror, as well as the police and emergency services—those people who are expected to be the first responders in this incident—and the broader community of Christchurch, having to realise that this shocking act has been conducted within their own community and, similarly more broadly, the experience of the people of New Zealand, their country's government, its leadership, having to come to terms with this act.
If we allow ourselves time to put ourselves in the place of any of those people, if we can perhaps try to demonstrate some direct sense of empathy by imagining what it must be like to have had any one of those experiences, then the full horror of this act of terror becomes apparent. The Deputy Premier and the deputy leader are right: there is much to contemplate for all of us in the wake of this act.
The Deputy Premier made reference to the conversation about gun laws that is now beginning in New Zealand, a conversation our country had to contemplate in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. There will be ongoing contemplations, as the deputy leader stated, about how an individual could allow themselves to be warped to the extent that they could possibly be capable of such an horrific act.
There will need to be an ongoing and deep reflection on our shared commitment to diversity, to multiculturalism, and on how we can begin repairing the damage this act has done to the perception of our community's commitment to this. The Muslim community is an integral part of our community here, in Christchurch and across our two countries, and both the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition are right: we will work harder to promote our commitment to multiculturalism in the wake of this and our shared values of peace, love, justice and compassion.
There will be reflections and investigations on the specific circumstances of the incident, of course, and there will be, as the member for Unley has said, those important questionings of the role of social media, both within this incident and what it facilitated for the perpetrator, but, more generally, as message boards for the exponential growth in abuse, in hatred, in vilification and in extremism. These are only a few of the pertinent issues that will be canvassed in the coming days, weeks and months and, hopefully, acted on.
But, like all acts of terror, it is the responsibility of all in our community to be resilient in the face of them, to be compassionate, to be positive about the future and together to send a message that our community stands united in the face of such acts. I commend the Premier's motion to the house, I commend those members supporting it, and I commend those members speaking in support of it and providing this important opportunity for community leadership.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (11:54): I strongly support the Premier's motion and acknowledge the unanimous support for the motion in this chamber—and I am not in the very least surprised by that. As I have said in this chamber before, any loss of life is sad, any unexpected death is confronting and any avoidable death is tragic.
I believe that is true, but what we are talking about at the moment is something so much more. You take those very human, very natural, very real feelings and multiply them by 50 at once—50 people killed. You consider the fact that they were deliberately, hatefully killed in a pre-planned way. You think about the fact that this has happened unexpectedly in our part of the world; not in our nation, but certainly in our part of the world and in another country that we would all think of as the most similar to Australia.
Overlay that with the fact that it was perpetrated in a place of worship. Forget Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, non-believers; it was a place of worship, whatever your choice of worship might be. My place of worship is in the Flinders Ranges. It does not matter; it is a place of worship and people were massacred, 50 of them at once. It is hard to absorb all that when you think about what we feel and understand when one person dies tragically, unexpectedly. Of course our initial reactions are incredibly strong and incredibly confusing: sympathy, anger, fear, support, care, in some cases hatred, as has previously been said.
It is not unnatural to think that one of your first responses could even be hatred for a person who would do that. What really counts is what our long-term reactions will be. What will we do as regular men and women on the street, what will we do as elected leaders, what will we do as a government, what will we do as a parliament, in the medium and the longer term? That is what really counts: how we react, how we decide who we are, what we stand for, what we will accept and what we will not accept whilst still retaining our freedoms, our rights, our individuality, our democracy, our open community.
I believe very firmly—and I am sure that others do, too—that you are allowed to think what you think. We can have different views about what people think, you are allowed to think what you think, but you cannot harm others based on your thoughts, based on your beliefs. As a state, as a nation, as a world, we should never, ever accept that people can be hurt based on the thoughts other people might have.
When I think of open community, freedom, rights, individuality, democracy I think of Marree, a very small town in my electorate of Stuart. It is a very small town with a population of 80 or 90 where, as has already been mentioned today, I am very proud to say the first mosque in Australia was established. It still stands. It is not used much, but it still stands and it is a very important symbol in that wonderful small town. It has a thatched roof and is next to some palm trees, some date palms. It is open, no walls, with wooden pillars or columns just holding up the thatched roof, and it is right in the middle of town. It is a precious place for everybody in Marree.
There are still Afghans in Marree, there are still Aboriginals, there are still pastoralists, there are still tourists. Every type of person you can imagine comes through Marree—rich, poor, young, old, men, women, foreigners, Australians—but for the local people in Marree who are Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal and Afghan, this is still an incredibly important place.
This mosque that was established in Marree 158 years ago—the first one in Australia—is still an important place today, and that community is open, friendly and robust. People are willing and able to share their views very openly. They are from all different walks of life, and it is a very harmonious place as well. It is not perfect. No community is perfect, but I cannot think of anywhere where people of so many different backgrounds who live there get on so well. Full credit to Marree, and full credit to Marree for being the first place to have a mosque and for still being such a shining example.
There is another element to this issue, which is very difficult, I am sure, for all of us, and that is the fact that the alleged murderer of 50 people in a place of worship in our part of the world is an Australian. Who among us does not feel some shame about the fact that it seems that it was one of us who committed this horrible, inexplicable act?
Over the last several days of trying to absorb all of this, learn and think what I could do, how I could help, what it really means, etc., I have not been touched by anything more than a radio interview that I heard. It was a radio interview with an Islamic man, and I am sorry I just cannot remember the station. An Islamic man was being interviewed in Australia and he said that so many Anglo-Australians have come up to him and said, 'I am sorry. I am really sorry that it was one of us who did this to your broader community, albeit in New Zealand. I am really sorry that it was one of us, it seems, who did this to your people.'
The response was, 'Don't be sorry that it was an Australian who did this. Think about how we as Muslims feel when Muslim extremists in other parts of the world do things like this and how it reflects on us unfairly. Don't be sorry that an Australian did it. Think about the fact that we are Muslims, we are good Muslims and when a bad Muslim does something it reflects on us in the same way that you think it reflects on you. Don't think about the reflection. Accept, please, that we are good as you are good.' I am paraphrasing, of course, but that had a profound effect on me. I thought that was incredibly instructive.
It is extremism and intolerance that cause these things. It is not any walk of life, it is not a race, it is not a religion, it is not an age: it is extremism. It is the belief that your opinions are so valid that you are entitled to harm people. That is what we have to fight against. That is what we need to rail against, and I am confident that our parliament can do that. I am confident that we can do it. There is not any skerrick of hesitation in any member in this chamber—and I am sure it is the same in the other place—to support this motion from the Premier.
Also in this parliament we have a Malinauskas, we have a Koutsantonis, we have a Pisoni, we have a van Holst Pellekaan, and do you know what? We have a Habib. We have a Habib, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of the member for Elder for not changing her maiden name until after she was elected, to prove that she was good enough, to prove that her electorate was good enough, to not accept the scandalous, racist imputations that were placed on her.
I cannot tell you how proud I am of her. That is quite consistent with her decision to adopt her married name after being elected. She was strong enough to say, 'I was born a Habib. I am an Australian. I turned up here. I want to run for parliament and I am not changing my name until I get there.' It is absolutely outstanding. Let me tell you also, we have a Marshall, we have a Chapman, we have a Close, and we have a Hughes. Our parliament can do this. We can be united leaders in this effort.
Let me finish by passing on my thanks and my care to all the emergency services workers, the first responders, in New Zealand, who would have had to deal with something that they would never have imagined. I am in the CFS. I am not a professional by any stretch of the imagination, but I know that even for professionals—MFS, police, etc.—the idea that they might go to support people when 50 people have been massacred in a place of worship is a long, long way down the track in their training. Sure, it is contemplated and addressed, but it really is not the sort of thing they would have expected to have to do in their work.
Thank you to those people. Let's not underestimate the long-term impact upon them. Of course, I give my condolences to the family and friends of the people who have passed away—the 50 people who were massacred—and my support, care and love to those who were injured, who I hope will make a speedy and very long-term recovery.
Ms HILDYARD (Reynell) (12:05): I rise to speak in wholehearted support of the motion. In doing so, I acknowledge all who have spoken and are speaking in such unity on this motion. I also acknowledge the many, many people who gathered in our South Australian community on Sunday evening at the Park Holme Mosque and the mosque in our southern community in Morphett Vale. I acknowledge the communities who have gathered around the world to mourn, to connect, to offer prayers, to offer comfort to one another and to promote love, peace, understanding and welcome: things that deeply unify us, things that should always drive all that we do, things that provide comfort at this incredibly sad time, things that must define us and things that are always and always have been the antidote to hatred and all that threatens to divide us.
I particularly pay tribute to our local Muslim brothers and sisters, led by Ahmed Zreika in Park Holme and Khalil Shahin in Morphett Vale, for the incredible way they brought people together with such strength, dignity and compassion at such a difficult time. I also thank them for their outstanding and generous contribution in so many ways to South Australian community life.
Like billions of people across the world, our hearts are heavy as we contemplate together the horror of the senseless, abhorrent violence that tragically claimed the lives of women, men and children simply practising their faith in Christchurch on Friday. It left so many others injured and has left so many to deal with the ongoing terrible effects of this horror for many long days, weeks, months and years ahead.
Today, together as a parliament, we offer our condolences, our love, our sympathy and our solidarity as we stand shoulder to shoulder with all who have lost loved ones in such horrific circumstances, with our local Muslim community, the New Zealand Muslim community and the wider New Zealand community. Indeed, we stand with all communities around the world, all who are affected by these circumstances and with one another. As well as offering that support and love, I think that together, with steely resolve and determination, we must commit to continuing to speak out and reach out together into our communities in a way that shows that love, peace and togetherness is the only way forward for our world.
Love and peace must be at the very core of our future and what we teach and show our children. Together, we must—and I know that together we will, as we do today—utterly reject the hatred, fearmongering, racism and extremism that motivated those who committed these atrocities. We as parliamentarians and community leaders must relentlessly say that hatred and racism have no place in our community, nor in our media, our discourse, our parliaments, our council chambers or anywhere else. We must now draw a line under the hatred and racism causing these terrible events and relegate them to our past with an abundant outpouring of love in every corner of our globe.
As the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, put so well, hatred and racism is not New Zealand, and nor is it us. We know that, sadly, not everyone in our community believes that welcome, understanding and peace are the way forward. We know that there are those who wish to peddle hatred and division, but we know that this is not and nor will it ever be our future. Our future is deeply strengthened by our cultural diversity, and this diversity has made our own state so much stronger, fairer and better, as it has all over the world. A different way forward must be born from this tragedy. Together, with understanding, acceptance and a rejection of hate, we can and will walk that new path forward.
We must relentlessly call out those who do not speak positively about the need for social cohesion, with positivity about diversity in religion and immigration. What is publicly said never exists in a vacuum. Together, we must speak loudly and relentlessly about how positive our cultural diversity is. In doing so, together we can demonstrate what our community is about. We can demonstrate who we are and what we stand for and value, and what we absolutely do not.
Looking around the vigils that I attended on Sunday and hearing us speak in unity today, I remain deeply saddened by the impetus for bringing us together and for this motion today, but I am also deeply hopeful about the future of love and peace that we must and will create. I say thank you to the many local community members who gathered at Park Holme and Morphett Vale for their presence, for their compassion, for their prayers, for their enormous hearts that, whilst filled with such sorrow, are also filled with love, and for their willingness to commit together to a different future. Together, we will not let this define us. We will be defined by love, unity and hope.
In closing, over the past few days I have been thinking of the prayer of St Francis. It is a prayer that is known around the world as the Peace Prayer. It is a prayer that speaks to me and I think to many at this time, whether you are a person of faith or not. It is a prayer that His Excellency the Governor Hieu Van Le so beautifully referred to in his speech on Sunday, and I share it with the house:
Lord, make us an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us so love.
Where there is discord, union.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
I commend the motion to the house.
The Hon. R. SANDERSON (Adelaide—Minister for Child Protection) (12:12): I rise to support the Premier's motion. Tragically, Friday 15 March 2019 will be indelibly imprinted on the minds of those in our sister city of Christchurch in New Zealand and the world. Through the hatred of one man, at least 50 people have lost their life and countless others have had theirs changed forever. Those directly impacted were simply attending communal prayer in their place of worship, engaging in peaceful reflection with God.
The tragic loss of children and adults from a number of different nationalities who were present at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques is incomprehensible. No matter what your religion, everyone has the right to meet safely and without fear to practise their faith. Any act of terrorism and extremism should be condemned. In what New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has described as one of New Zealand's darkest days, my hope is that New Zealanders find some solace in the outpouring of grief and support from world leaders and people across the globe who stand together denouncing such hatred.
From great tragedy comes the opportunity to make significant changes such as were reflected by the significant changes to the gun laws after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. For those of us not in Christchurch, the images of the traditional haka being delivered by a Christian group of Maori men, the sea of flowers and candles at the mosques, and the letters of support for our Muslim neighbours provide us here with insight into the shock, grief and pain of those left behind.
Closer to home, the prayer vigils and services that were held over the weekend in South Australia I hope provide comfort to those in our Islamic communities that we, as a community, are here for them. My electorate of Adelaide is home to the Adelaide Mosque, the oldest surviving and first-built mosque, erected in 1888. The City of Adelaide is the sister city of Christchurch and has been since 1972, almost 50 years.
As public figures elected to this place, it is important to remember that our voices, our deeds and the way we participate in public life are a reflection of both the society we represent and the society we wish to represent. I am proud to embrace cultural diversity and to actively participate in multicultural events throughout my electorate and the state. To do so opens our minds and our hearts to what the world has to offer and permits us to live in harmony with one another. To all those affected in our sister city of Christchurch, we stand with you today, united and resolute in condemning the attack on the mosques in your city and we extend our sincere and heartfelt sympathies. To those in Christchurch: kia kaha—be strong; we are with you. I commend the motion to the house.
Ms COOK (Hurtle Vale) (12:15): Friday started with such hope: I watched hundreds of kids start their day with laughter and energy at sports days around Hurtle Vale and I spoke to young people and their parents who were heading off to have their say regarding their global environmental future.
But then there was a cold-blooded act of murder, an act of terror, with 50 innocent lives gone: children, mothers, fathers, family members, all meeting for their regular prayer. There are still dozens of people in hospital and some in a critical condition. These people, their families, their neighbours, their communities, along with millions of people, are scarred for life. Again, our world is never going to be the same because of another life-changing event where our trust, our sense of fun and our carefree spirit have taken a beating.
By nature, we are a loving and nurturing race. In the main, we conceive, carry and raise our children out of love. Children are not born pure evil, like this perpetrator; he became this way. We can only imagine what must have happened to him to send him down this path. How can people have so much hate in their hearts and so little respect for human life? I have asked myself this so many times, but it has never been more important to find the answer than now. It is certain that the full blame lies on the shoulders of the perpetrator, but what contributed to this? We can blame the availability of firearms. Yes, this must be addressed. We can reflect on the person's childhood, a traumatic youth. Yes, this must also be addressed.
What has worried me more over the past few days is the vision and the way that news reports have shown this terrorist's live video of him assassinating people in cold blood, innocent people and children joined together as families on their regular day of prayer, shot in cold blood. To screen this vision is appalling. I call on media outlets to have a good look at themselves in terms of what impact they have on our community's attitude towards violence and the desensitisation that occurs when vulnerable children, young people and vulnerable adults are exposed to such vision. The psychology is fact. We must push for change.
Free press is vital, but it has to be moderated in some way. For this vision to be shown on prime-time television, at a time when families sit together and talk about their day, when impressionable kids are exposed to it without explanation, is atrocious. I did not know how to explain it. It is one of the only times I have ever turned off the news. Like free press, I value and vehemently defend our right as a community to free speech, but free speech is not hate speech. What are these vile comments, memes and even parliamentary releases that we are seeing?
I have had enough. Pauline Hanson, Fraser Anning and others, I call you out. I call on my parliamentary colleagues, the public and leaders in our community to call them out. The racist, hate-filled rhetoric designed only for their own stupid political purposes has to stop. We must insist that it stops now.
One of our own elected members within the City of Onkaparinga, Councillor Sandra Brown, has overnight been exposed in our local media for having a personal Facebook account—unlocked and open to the public, so it is not that personal—filled with racist and Islamophobic rubbish. There is absolute garbage spewing out from her Facebook page. The City of Onkaparinga has made swift statements distancing themselves from those comments and disseminating the difference between a personal and professional Facebook page. I commend this, but I also call on Councillor Brown to immediately seek some help and counsel around this.
I am happy to take her and introduce her to our loving Ahmadiyya Muslim community. I am happy to take her and others to visit the Noor Mosque in Morphett Vale—a welcoming and beautiful place. I call on Councillor Brown to either stop spreading vile content or resign. She does not represent our community—the south that I know.
On Sunday, I, along with the member for Reynell, addressed this wonderful community in the home of our Ahmadiyya family in the Noor Mosque. The mosque was full of a wide representation of people, and it was very heartening to see over 100 people in a very small room. The Ahmadiyya community was very emotional and they were very thankful to see the community turn out in force; they were not expecting such a crowd.
The leadership of Rasheed Khalid, Vice President South Australia of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Australia; our mayor, Erin Thompson; the Lay Preacher of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregation, Lane Rochow; and Reverend Douglas of the Noarlunga Uniting Church, was just wonderful. They all shared their stories of grief, togetherness, love and inspiration. People were invited to come up from the audience. Philippa Rowland, President of the Multifaith Association of South Australia, had very inspiring words, as usual.
Mr Jimmy Tapara, a local Maori man who is the father of one of my son's friends and former partner of a good friend of mine from my nursing career, sang a beautiful song of healing and prayer. Everyone was touched and many tears where shed when he did so. I apologised to the local fellow, a Polish migrant, who got up and spoke. He said that he understood, coming from a childhood surrounded by hate. He understands what happens when bigots and racists take control of a community. He was inspiring. We can travel that journey, like he did, in our community.
Then there is Jacinda Ardern. What more can be said about this young woman—a young mother? I know that there was no way that when my son was that age I could have spoken as strongly as she did without being a wreck and in tears. What a strong leader. She has been commended by all sides of politics, and rightly so. She is taking swift action, she is doing so with compassion, and she will bring New Zealand together on this journey.
Thank you to my nursing sisters and brothers. I know a little of what you are going through, but not to that extent. I have no concept of what came through your doors on Friday. Thank you to the hospital workers, the emergency services workers, the police, the pathologists, the scientists, the investigators—the people who have to put on a brave face—and the community members and volunteers, many of whom who have travelled from Australia to help, to support the faith, to wash the bodies of the dead. To those who will clean the mosques and to those who will clean the community and prepare for healing, thank you so much.
I am truly sorry for our friends over the ditch: the victims, families and friends. It is right for us to say sorry, but he is not one of us. I condemn the act of terror. This act, on one of New Zealand's and in fact our world's darkest days, was set to divide us. He intended to divide us and cause hate, but what he will do is cause love and strength and together we will get through this. Kia kaha.
The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (12:25): I rise today also to speak on this motion put forward by the Premier. As we all have pointed out in this place, Adelaide has a very special relationship with Christchurch as our sister city. Our two cities participate and collaborate in cultural, education, business and technical exchange.
I was fortunate enough a few years ago to visit New Zealand and to go to Christchurch and one of the things that stood out amongst the beauty of New Zealand was the people. Whilst New Zealand is a neighbouring country, we have that wonderful close kinship and my heart goes out to the people there as they deal with this tragedy.
My stepdad is from New Zealand, as are my stepsisters. My stepson is living there now and he also speaks very highly of the people. He is over there playing Aussie Rules football, of all things, and the people he is working with, engaging with and living with are absolutely wonderful. My wife and mother-in-law went to visit him a few weeks ago and when they returned I asked what they thought of New Zealand the first time they had been there. Without hesitation, they said, 'The scenery is beautiful. It's a lovely place and the people are just wonderful.' Again, our heart goes out to them.
A few here have mentioned the vigil that was held at the Islamic Society of South Australia on Sunday evening at Park Holme, at the mosque on Marion Road, and I was fortunate enough to attend. The mosque sits in the member for Morphett's electorate, just metres away from my electorate and a stone's throw from the member for Elder's electorate. It was great to be there with the Premier. The member for Davenport and the member for Unley were also there, as were a number of members from the other side of the chamber.
It was great to be a part of the vigil and to offer some condolence to the people whose hearts were really breaking. It was mentioned that someone who was in the audience—they were not mentioned by name—had three family members who were killed in the shootings in New Zealand and it really did just drive it home.
I would like to commend the people who put together the vigil because, as I said, it was a first step hopefully in the healing process, but, as the Premier so eloquently pointed out on the night, it was more an opportunity to take stock and to try to comprehend what had happened because I think at that time, and potentially even now, it is hard to take in.
Ahmed Zreika, who is President of the Islamic Society of South Australia, was wonderfully warm and welcoming. We know Houssam Abiad, the Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide, did a lot in organising this event. More than 2,000 people were there. They were literally spilling out onto the streets. It was quite phenomenal to witness. Charlie Shahin also spoke, as did Ms Dora Abbas, who is President of the Muslim Women's Association. Professor Mohamad Abdalla also spoke at the end. I will talk more of him in a few moments' time, but I thought he made some wonderfully pertinent points.
At the mosque, it was heartwarming to see the letters of support and the tributes on the walls outside, as well as the number of people who came to pay their respects. As I walked up Marion Road to the mosque, a variety of people were walking towards the mosque to be a part of this vigil to show their love and concern for a community that was clearly hurting. There were families with babies and the elderly, you name it—every person in society was covered and they were walking a long way to get there. It was wonderful to see.
A few people have mentioned this, but I will mention it as well: in my position as Minister for Police and Emergency Services, I would like to recognise the hard work of the police and emergency services personnel in Christchurch and throughout New Zealand during this time. There is an element of me that does not want to think about the scenes that these people would have confronted, but it is hard not to think about it. Through the tyranny of distance, we have the luxury of only imagining what they would have seen and what they would have had to deal with. If you take a moment to consider that, your hearts will go out to all those emergency services personnel who had to deal with what they were confronted with.
The Police Federation of Australia has also acknowledged the tireless work of first responders, the investigators, the armed response officers, the crime scene examiners, the police media officers and others who played a crucial part in establishing exactly how this terrible tragedy unfolded. I note that paragraph (e) of this motion condemns terrorism and extremism in all its forms. I concur with what others have said, that these actions clearly stem from hate.
This act and others like it stem from hate. As a society, and as members of this place, we need to keep working to end hate and to push love because we are all people living on this earth together. We might have differing opinions and differing views and this parliament, perhaps, is a great example of that. We can often disagree with people on the other side, but there is no hate.
Fundamentally, we all want to achieve the same outcome: to make a better state, to make a better environment for the people who live here. We might have differing views on how it should be done and we can debate and argue over those, and we can disagree vehemently, but there is not hate. There is no place for hate in this world; love is what we need to strive for. I strongly push for everyone in this place to have that in their mind as we go forward. I truly believe that everyone in this place is about promoting love.
I mentioned Professor Mohamad Abdalla, who made a couple of very poignant points at the end of the vigil that were very thorough and covered a lot of key points. Again, there was that theme of love. Professor Mohamad Abdalla raised the point that perhaps a lack of social interaction was at play with these extreme acts of terror that we have seen in society over a period of time. I want to leave this parliament with those points the professor made for us to think about—about how we can grow social interaction in our society and make sure that people are not in a position to be influenced by, in particular, online extremists who capture vulnerable people and impart on them a will to do what we saw in New Zealand recently.
It is something we can work towards collectively as a parliament because it is an area of policy we can help deliver and remove that isolation and bring people together. Professor Mohamad Abdalla probably made the point more poignantly than I did but I thought it was a really great takeaway from his endearing speech at the vigil.
In finishing—and I think it is clear—we say to the people of New Zealand that we know the actions of this individual do not represent New Zealand, and we know they do not represent Australia, despite an Australian being at the fore of what happened. It is important that we offer our support to our sister city at this devastating time. I stress again that we must remember that love will always triumph over hate.
The Hon. Z.L. BETTISON (Ramsay) (12:34): On Friday, in our sister city of Christchurch, New Zealand, an Australian entered a mosque and opened fire on unarmed men, women and children at prayer. He then went to another mosque and did the same. Fifty people are dead and dozens more are injured. A lone person with hate in his heart and hate in his mind destroyed lives within a matter of moments. All of us have felt shock that this terrorist act happened in our own backyard, to our cousins across the ditch. The fact that the perpetrator was Australian makes me feel that we collectively feel a sense of shame for his actions, but what saddens me the most is that our Muslim community is not surprised that this has occurred.
Since September 11, 2001, an event that shocked the world, our Muslim community has been persecuted through the actions of extremists and fundamentalists. They have been forced to explain their faith as it was attacked. They have been forced to apologise for the actions of a few. They have been questioned on choices of culture and commitment to a religion that is practised throughout the world. Rather than conversations about Islamic contributions to art, science, mathematics, writing, music and poetry, all the talk has been about not being aligned to Australian values, not being welcome in Australia and that Muslim immigration should be banned.
Much has been said about hate speeches and a vexed understanding about freedom of speech. However, the reality is that this is about the fear of change. While Australia is a country of migrants, with one in two of us having a parent born overseas, there is a mentality that the door should shut behind the last group of migrants. I remember the eighties, when it was 'the Asians out'. Now we have people calling for a stop to Muslim migration and limiting migrants from particular parts of the world. Every new group suffers from the commentary of not being complementary to Australian life. Yet, if we look around in parliament, where we are representing the South Australian community, we count members with Italian, Greek, Polish, Dutch, Vietnamese, Chinese, Malaysian, Lithuanian and many other heritages.
Our parents, our grandparents and our great-grandparents all came here for the same reason: to give their children a better life. People come to Australia because we need their skills, for safety, to invest in our economy and because we have blue skies and clean air. Whatever the motivation, people come to build a life for the future.
Today, I want to talk about our Muslim community in South Australia. Many speak proudly to me of our long history of people of Muslim faith living here, as witnessed by the building of the first Australian mosque in Marree in 1861. Our Muslim community is young, dynamic and diverse. They are from more than 20 countries, many born in Australia or starting their life here as international students, as skilled migrants or as humanitarian migrants seeking safety. Many of the community are leaders in business, medicine and academia.
From the celebrations of Eid and Nowruz to Iftar dinners during Ramadan, our Muslim community has reached out to the wider community to join in. The creation of the Al Salam festival, a peace festival now in its fifth year, evolved from a lack of knowledge, from the population, about the Islamic faith and the desire of leaders to enable questions to be asked and answered. Open mosque days welcome South Australians to spend time in mosques in order to forge stronger connections with the wider community.
Our Muslim community is your neighbour, your workmate, your child's friend at school, the person who kicked the winning goal. Our Muslim community is not the other: they are us. It is not the first time they have been made to feel afraid by the actions of one man. It is not the only time they have been abused, but his actions make being vigilant an everyday act—looking over your shoulder, checking who is nearby, experiencing an everyday sense of fear. This is not the Australia I want. A line in the sand has been drawn. We must see ourselves and accept ourselves for who we are. We are a multicultural country. As our anthem says:
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share
With courage [now] let us all combine
These words continue to be true. Our hearts are broken by the act of terror in Christchurch. As we heal, let us do so with the belief that we are a shared humanity. Far more unifies us than divides us.
This week, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Harmony Day, although the celebration is now being referred to as Harmony Week. Let us remind ourselves that harmony, together as a community, is what we must all strive for. To the people of New Zealand, we are thinking of you as you heal from the trauma of this act. To those who are burying loved ones this week, we stand beside you. I support the motion.
Dr HARVEY (Newland) (12:42): I rise today to support the motion moved this morning by the Premier, and I thank him for bringing the motion to this place. As a number of others have reflected, in Adelaide we have a special relationship with Christchurch. Whilst I have not been there, I used to work with a very proud expat of Christchurch, so in many ways I feel like I have been there. It is certainly a beautiful place, a peaceful place and a place filled with people who are friendly and compassionate.
Last Friday, the lives of innocent men, women and children were taken whilst they prayed at the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the hands of terrorism born out of a toxic and evil ideology that has no place in any civilised nation. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of those affected, but also to the New Zealand and Muslim community more broadly.
I would like to send my best wishes for a full recovery to all those injured in last Friday's attack. I would like to commend the emergency services of Christchurch, including the police, whose job it was to confront the violence head-on and conduct the following investigation, and also those working in the health system, including the paramedics and other services involved in treating the victims of the attack.
It is with great pride that I am able to stand with others in this place in solidarity with the people of Christchurch, New Zealand, and South Australia's Muslim community. As the Prime Minister reflected in recent days, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, an attack on a section of our community is an attack on our community as a whole, and the evil ideology of extremism that seeks to divide our community, in whatever form it takes, must be rejected in the strongest possible terms and without qualification. An attack such as we saw last week in a peaceful city in a peaceful nation is a sobering reminder that violent extremism can rear its head anywhere and at any time and that we must always be vigilant whilst also ensuring that we do not allow our way of life to be altered through fear.
Importantly, though, it is also a sobering reminder that the poisonous ideology that underpinned this atrocity can also spring up anywhere and at any time. We must make sure that we always stand against this world view and call out those who push it but also call out those who may not necessarily take that view themselves but nevertheless fan those views within our community for their own purposes. We must continue to celebrate and protect the incredible cultural diversity that has made our state and indeed our nation so rich and so much stronger.
We can never allow the actions of a few depraved individuals to weaken the inclusive community that has been built peacefully for over half a century. As I am sure all people in this place would agree, whatever your race, whatever your creed, if you are here to be part of our community, then you are welcome here. I commend the Premier for bringing this motion to this place, I commend all those who have spoken or will speak in favour of this motion and I commend this motion to this house.
Mr PICTON (Kaurna) (12:46): I certainly support the motion moved by the Premier and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition. I think this is the toughest subject that I have had to talk about in the five years that I have been in this parliament, and I am sure that is shared by many other members. I am sure that we have all had a very difficult four days since this tragedy, since this terrorist act, since this atrocity, coming to terms with what has happened, coming to terms with what it means, coming to terms with what it means about our society.
We certainly stand with the victims. We stand with the people of Christchurch. We stand with those Muslim people who were at their place of worship, peacefully praying, when this awful atrocity occurred. We cry with them. We pray with them. Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, I think put it very well when she said, 'They are us.' They are peaceful people who sought to move to a country that is peaceful, that does have a harmonious community they wanted to contribute to.
Of course, New Zealand and Australia share so much, and particularly Christchurch, Christchurch being the sister city of Adelaide. Anybody who has been to Christchurch will know and feel the similarities between Christchurch and Adelaide. A lot of the city's design was based on the principles Adelaide was based on, and that makes it even more raw and makes it even more gnawing and completely difficult to comprehend what has happened.
As has been said by many leaders, this was a right-wing extremist terrorist action. It was something that none of us thought was coming, but looking back you can certainly see that some of the signs were there, brewing for this. I would like to make clear as well, though, that this was a particularly cowardly act. To walk into a place where people were praying, where people were joining together in a solemn moment of prayer, with those sorts of weapons shows no strength, shows no guts. It is completely cowardly.
I certainly support what Jacinda Ardern said in that she will not ever use the name of the person who committed these awful terrorist crimes, because what he is clearly seeking to do is to seek fame and infamy, and we should not let him seek that. We are, of course, in Australia, as is New Zealand, stronger through our diversity. We are stronger because we are a multicultural society. We are stronger because different people have brought their experiences, cultures, food, languages, traditions from around the world and brought them here to South Australia, and we need to be continually welcoming of people from around the world because that is part of the strength we have as a society.
Sadly, we do have racism in our country, in our state and in our city. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would be to be faced with racism day in and day out. In particular, as a white, male, straight person, it is even more difficult in that I do not have to face so much of the prejudice faced by so many people in our society. We all need to join together and say that prejudice of any kind, stereotyping of any kind and hatred of any kind are not acceptable and will be condemned by all of us.
I was shocked not only at the event but also at what we saw afterwards in comments from one senator, in particular, and comments from many people on social media who were encouraging, who were sympathising and who were apologising for what had happened. I had some of those comments on my own Facebook page, which particularly shocked me. I think that is a minority of people, but it is something that we do have to grapple with. There are people in our community who feel such strong racism that they would sympathise and encourage murder and terrorism. It is a scary proposition that we have people like that in our midst.
After seeing some of the comments on my Facebook page, I perhaps foolishly looked at some of the right-wing blogs, Facebook pages and things like that. I just could not believe what some of the people were saying—people who, if you look at their profiles, look normal enough, but were coming out with the most disgusting and scary things. I just could not believe it. We all need to join together, as we have done in this parliament, but we are also going to need to grapple with how we combat an active, vocal minority of people who hold such deplorable views.
Certainly, another element that deserves mention is firearms legislation, something that we, over the past 20-plus years since Port Arthur, have significantly improved in Australia. That is not to say that it makes an attack like this impossible in Australia or South Australia, but it certainly makes it a lot more difficult. New Zealand have signalled that they will be updating and bringing in significant changes to their legislation.
I think it is important that we on both sides, as a parliament, resist any calls from anybody to weaken our legislation or to weaken those regulations—those calls do happen. Certainly, I was aware, in my brief period as police minister, that you do get people who want to reverse those changes to the gun laws. We need to be strident in our opposition to that, but we also need to look at what is happening in New Zealand now and see, out of the changes that they are about to make, whether there are improvements that we need to make now to our gun laws to make sure that we keep up to date and that we are doing everything we possibly can.
Like other members, I want to thank and sympathise with the emergency services workers who had to face what would be unfathomable, ghastly scenes in dealing with this incident, whether it is the police, the scientists, the paramedics or the people who work in our hospitals. They were absolutely gruesome scenes. They will need very significant support, not just over the coming days and weeks but over years, to deal with what they have had to confront in this situation, as will all the victims' families. All the victims' families have lost people dear to them—their children, parents, brothers and sisters—and they will need a huge amount of support over coming years to deal with that. I want to thank all those people who will do that, all the counsellors and support workers who will provide that support.
I think it is important that we think about the outcome we need to strive for now. Our former prime minister Julia Gillard said it quite well in her message on this: we all need now to recommit ourselves to compassion and to love. That is the outcome we should be seeking out of this ghastly, horrible crime.
Ms BEDFORD (Florey) (12:54): On Friday 15 March, a dreadful, terrible tragedy occurred in our sister city of Christchurch in New Zealand, Aotearoa, our near neighbour in the South Pacific, a country with which we have longstanding and lasting ties and so much in common. Many in Australia have family connections to New Zealand . My family has close connections, particularly in Dunedin. I was in Wellington only 16 weeks ago, commemorating their close suffrage ties with this state and celebrating their commitment to equality for all. On behalf of the electors of Florey, I extend condolences to all the family, loved ones and friends of the victims of the shootings at the mosques. Your grief has been cruelly compounded by the suddenness and very nature of this senseless slaughter.
Also, we send our hope and very best wishes for speedy recoveries to all those injured, some still fighting for life. To witnesses of the horrendous events and scenes that followed, our thoughts are with you. The lives of all these people and the wider community of Christchurch and the people of New Zealand have irrevocably changed forever. As we all know, if New Zealand can be the scene of such a catastrophe, then it could have easily been one of us called to face such an event. In the days and months ahead, our hopes for the people of Christchurch are that you will be comforted by the love and support of family and friends and the millions of people throughout the world who care deeply about what has occurred there—and to you. They are events with which all people of peace are now grappling.
To the first responders, emergency workers, health and medical professionals, you have done an amazing job under terrifying circumstances and continue to tend to your community. To say thank you for doing your jobs so well seems totally inadequate. We admire and respect your courage and service. You will not be forgotten during the time of recovery.
To Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, your leadership in the hours that followed, and now the long days as things become clearer, has drawn your people closer together. Maori leaders have also acted quickly to unite the spirits of those at the centre of the tragedy and all the people of Christchurch. As has been mentioned, this is not the first time that Christchurch has been tested so grimly. Your courage and resolve is being tested again. Our hopes for you are that you will come to the other side of this calamity with the same resolve that you have shown in the face of natural disaster.
At the annual Al Salam Festival held in Veale Gardens on Sunday 10 March, the Islamic community of South Australia came together to celebrate their commitment to peace. As I have done for many years, I joined friends and talked happily, looking at the exhibitions and watching children play. How quickly life can change.
The Wandana Avenue mosque was, until last election, in the electorate of Florey, and a mosque will soon be constructed in the new part of Florey. The Wandana Avenue mosque was firebombed in October 2001. I remember too vividly the devastation among the fledgling Muslim community and acknowledge how they worked in unity of purpose and harmony to successfully become part of the north-east and the wider South Australian society.
Let us all work now and do our jobs in and among our communities. There will be much debate in the months to come, and leadership in this debate will be important. It is up to each person to decide how to use their power and influence for change for the good. Let's delay no longer in making peace, as a concept, part of our lives as we go about our day-to-day activities. We cannot become desensitised to dreadful acts or the pain of others.
We have to be kind to ourselves and help wherever and whenever we can and take notice of others, especially those who appear to be loners, who are alone or unsupported. We need to be empathetic. In treating others with respect, especially in the face of extremes, just as all the people of Christchurch are demonstrating now, there will be change. We must be the change we want to see. I acknowledge the contributions of all other speakers and commend the motion of the Premier.
Debate adjourned on motion of Mr Pederick.
Sitting suspended from 13:00 to 14:00.