House debates

Thursday, 15 December 2022


Arnold, Constable Matthew, Dare, Mr Alan, McCrow, Constable Rachel

12:35 pm

Photo of Clare O'NeilClare O'Neil (Hotham, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Home Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

Firstly, to the member for Maranoa: on behalf of all of us in the chamber and on behalf of all of our communities, we express our deepest sorrow to you, as a representative of your area. This is a horrible incident, and I truly am sorry. The PM has shared some beautiful words with the chamber. To hear that there's a town that's run out of flowers—I think that says it all. There is something very, very special about the kind of community that we see in country Australia. You've spoken very movingly about how this will affect the people who live there, Member for Maranoa.

Can I say to the Leader of the Opposition: we have plenty of arguments in this chamber, but today we're all on the same side of politics. I just want to acknowledge to the opposition leader that we all see and understand how much this will affect him personally. We thank you for your service in uniform to your community.

Our country today is in mourning. We've lost two brave young people who put on a uniform to serve their community. We've lost a member of the public who died undertaking his own act of bravery. We've got two police officers who are injured and traumatised. These were heroic Australians doing heroic acts, who have, in three instances, lost their lives. To lose your life in the service of your community—without question, this is a tragedy for our country. Our hearts go out, particularly, to Queensland police, who are now investigating a horrible crime that has occurred and are in the process of mourning two of their members. Policing is difficult, dangerous work, and I'm very grateful for the service of those officers around this country. We heard the Attorney-General express the government's thanks to the police officers who are here in the chamber, and I extend my grateful thanks to them too.

The Queensland police will, of course, lead an investigation into what has occurred and do the very important and diligent work of ascertaining what the motivations for violence were in this case. I would say to the country: we need to allow the police some time and space to do that work. Australians should know that their security agencies are actively considering the implications of this matter for the national security of our country—the implications of online radicalisation, misinformation and violent extremism. There is a lot of media reporting and speculation about what motivated these three people to perform the despicable acts of violence that they did. A lot of what comes out in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy is incorrect, and we need to pause a little bit here before we get into the discussion about what's happened. It's really important that we let law enforcement and national security agencies do their job.

Once the picture does start to clarify, it is likely that radicalisation will form a part of it. Radicalisation is not new, but it is absolutely clear from events here and around the world that conspiracy theories, disinformation and misinformation—problems as old as time—are being turbocharged by technology into terrible acts of violence. They are presenting a new kind of threat to our national security. There will be deep and very important policy questions for us here as a parliament in thinking about how our country prevents and deals with acts of violent extremism, but today is not the day for those discussions. Today is a day for grieving, and, again, I express my deepest sympathies for all of those who are affected by this horrible act of violence.

I'll say briefly, too, in my role as a local member, just how much I'm thinking of the police officers who protect the community in Hotham that I live in and love. The work you do is so important to our community, and we are thinking of all of you who are protecting us during this difficult period ahead and through into Christmas.


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