Condolences to Christchurch community

Last night I attended a vigil and prayer meeting at the Canberra Islamic Centre in recognition of the senseless tragedy that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, this past Friday. Many good people from all walks of life came together to mourn, to comfort, to be strengthened, and to find peace.

Today I addressed the Assembly and expressed my heartfelt sympathy to the families of all the victims in this tragedy – those whose loved ones have been ripped away from them and those who are keeping bedside vigils for the wounded.

Evil acts create long chains of victims, and my heart also breaks for members of our own community who may be feeling fear and a sense of insecurity. Are they safe here? Are they welcome? Are they really our neighbours? The answer to all those questions has to be a loud, clear yes!

Each of us has a role to play. As the parable of the Good Samaritan makes clear, treating each other as neighbours is all it takes. 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, for new Australians, for the people next door and the people in the street. It is my wish that we will all know and love one another better.

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