House debates

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Daniel Morcombe Foundation

4:41 pm

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about an issue that is dear to all our hearts and that is the protection and safety of our children. 29 October—tomorrow—is a significant and pertinent day for this matter and also the reason I am wearing a red tie. Tomorrow I will also be wearing a red item of clothing. As I mentioned on indulgence just after question time, I was really appreciative of the way the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the House, the Manager of Opposition Business, you, Mr Speaker, the former Prime Minister and so many other members wore an item of red to indicate their solidarity with the aims and goals of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, which seeks to promote protection, safety and opportunity for our children. As a father of two children, I am acutely aware that the protection of young people in a civilised society is particularly important.

This issue of child safety has been promoted with great commitment by Denise and Bruce Morcombe, who lost their son Daniel on 7 December 2003. Daniel was waiting at a bus stop to go Christmas shopping and get his hair cut. He never made it to the shops and he never returned home. His disappearance and suspected abduction and murder are the subject of a coronial inquest that started recently, on 11 October, and resumed this week. Denise and Bruce have sat through all testimony so far—which must be a challenge—and it is expected that some key persons of interest will give their testimony throughout the hearings. Denise and Bruce are determined to sit through everything, no matter how sensitive and emotional.

Tomorrow, Friday 29 October, is ‘Day for Daniel’, a commemorative day that aims to highlight the child safety message, the work of the foundation in spreading that message and also the ongoing quest for answers to the disappearance of Daniel Morcombe. The idea of Day for Daniel is for us to wear an item of red clothing to draw attention to this matter, because that is the colour of the T-shirt Daniel was wearing the day he disappeared. I have contacted all senators and members and all Queensland state members of parliament to inform them of this day and to encourage them to get involved, become aware of the issue and wear something red to add our collective political voices to this important commemoration. In 2010 in a society like Australia, which is a prosperous country, we really do have an obligation to make sure children are safe and secure. It is important that young people are able to go shopping, are able to catch a bus, without being subjected to the horrendous fate apparently suffered by Daniel Morcombe.

I really admire the Morcombe family because they have set aside their grief to make sure that other children do not suffer the fate of their son Daniel. They are people who have made it their life’s work to highlight this important issue right throughout Australia. It is vital that we get behind the Morcombe family, and the fact that so many people right around Australia celebrate the Day for Daniel is an indication that as a community we say ‘enough is enough’. Bruce and Denise are champions of the cause of child safety, and their relentless energy has ensured that the child safety message and the need to safeguard our children is being heard loudly, clearly and frequently.

The disappearance of Daniel Morcombe shocked the Sunshine Coast, the state and the nation. Bruce and Denise are true heroes of our community, and I want to commend them for their ongoing good work. On my own behalf, on behalf of the foundation and on behalf of the Morcombes I want to thank members for their very strong support. I was enormously humbled when I saw a sea of red when I entered the chamber. It made me proud to be a member of the parliament. It made me proud to be Australian.