Christchurch Condolence Motion

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was unable to speak to this morning’s condolence motion, so I am grateful to take this opportunity to say a few words on the ugly thing that happened in Christchurch last Friday.

First, I want to express my heartfelt sympathy to the families of all the victims in this senseless tragedy. Those who have lost loved ones will be struggling with broken hearts and pained souls. I hope that peace will somehow return to their lives. It is neither right nor fair that loved ones whose lives were knit into their own – parents, spouses, children, siblings, family and friends – have been ripped away from them.

I also express my sympathy to the wounded and their families. I understand that, as of this morning, 31 people were still in Christchurch Hospital, ten of them in critical condition. I hope that each of these victims will recover fully, not just physically but also emotionally. I hope that their family members and others will be strengthened in their bedside vigils.

But the list of victims doesn’t stop with these people, Madam Speaker. Evils acts create long chains of victims. My heart breaks for the Muslims in Christchurch and the rest of New Zealand who, in addition to their personal losses, feel fear … who wonder if they’re safe … who wonder if they’re really welcome.

This fear and sense of insecurity, unfortunately, impacts Muslims far removed from the two mosques that were attacked, however. In this very community of ours, our Muslim neighbours and friends are likewise worrying. Are they safe? Are they welcome? Are they really our neighbours? The answer to all those questions has to be a loud, clear yes!

I am grateful, Madam Speaker, that I was able to attend the vigil and prayer meeting at the Canberra Islamic Centre last night. Many good people from all walks of life came together to mourn, to comfort, to be strengthened, and to find peace. We must build on this foundation of love and respect for one another. There is no other way forward.

Each of us has a role to play, Madam Speaker. The parable of the Good Samaritan makes it clear who our neighbours are. Treating each other as neighbours is all it takes. It is not enough to welcome people into our communities if we do not also welcome them into our lives and homes … and accept the invitations when they welcome us into theirs. It has often been said that it is difficult to hate a person one actually knows. We need to be better at knowing each other.

This is true for our Muslim neighbours. It is also true for migrants and refugees. And it is true for the people next door and in the street. Madam Speaker, it is my wish that we will know and love one another.

Thank you.

#Motion #MulticulturalAffairs

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