Tuesday, 26 August 2014
I hope my comments will complement those of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, because tonight I speak on a matter of utmost public importance. In five minutes it is very difficult to convey the reality that faces thousands upon thousands of innocent people at this time.
Tonight in Iraq there is an organisation perpetrating crimes of the most horrendous nature: a jihadist group known by the name of the Islamic State whose primary goal is to create an illegitimate world that rules with terror and oppression, enslaving its people at the point of a sword.
Islamic State are committing atrocities against anyone who differs from them in religion, culture or ethnicity. Christians, Yazidis, Assyrians, Shia Muslims, Mandeans, Shabaks and Druze are all victims of forced displacement, murder, torture, kidnappings, rape and enslavement. If unchecked, this terror will spread further. We can confirm that a small number of Australian citizens are currently in these regions committing terrorist acts. I commend the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Attorney-General for the actions they have undertaken to combat home-grown terrorism and Australians who participate in terrorist activities overseas.
I commend the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection for the decision to allow an additional 4,000 places in the humanitarian program for those who have suffered at the hands of this terror, and I call for other nations to follow and do the same. I commend the Prime Minister on his communication with cultural leaders within Australia.
I stress that not all Muslims are terrorists. There are currently a small number of Australian Muslims engaging in terrorist activities overseas, and thus there is a need to engage with the communities to enlist their support in efforts to discourage any involvement with terrorist organisations
I think it is also important at this time to commend the Royal Australian Air Force: they place themselves in danger in order to deliver humanitarian aid and relief to people who, at the moment, need it more than anybody else. We stand here, we speak and they conduct actions on our behalf. They are decisions that risk their lives.
I want to stress that this cannot go on unchecked. These are crimes against humanity that we are witnessing. As the Prime Minister has said, we are witnessing something that is pure evil—a systematic persecution of multiple minority groups with the goal to wiping them out—and the world must react. We must not fail them. For the sake of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children, for the sake of the future prospects of peace in the Middle East and for the sake of peace around the globe, we must not fail them.
I believe that here in Australia we are in a very special and unique situation. We are a society that has brought together people of many different races, many different religions and many different cultures. We have shown that it can, in fact, work. As I have said to Islamic leaders here in Australia when I have spoken to them: people in Australia are free to share their faith, but we have an expectation that they will appreciate that they live in a parliamentary democracy—a country that respects the rule of law, that recognises gender equity—and that, if people are going to be treated with tolerance and understanding, then they have to offer it. I think we can continue to demonstrate to others around the world that what we are witnessing is horrific, but that if people are prepared to share values then a great deal more can be done in a very positive way to make this world a better place in which to live.