House debates

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Statements on Indulgence

Melbourne: Attacks

4:47 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I am the member for Melbourne but I was born in South Australia and then grew up and did my high school and university in Western Australia. I love lots of things about Perth and Fremantle, but to a young man in the 1990s Perth wasn't big enough and I spent quite a few days and weeks in Melbourne. As soon as I finished my degree, I moved to Melbourne and I have stayed in Melbourne ever since, knowing that it is the place for me. One of the moments very early on when I knew Melbourne was the right city for me was one Friday evening and I was able to go out and see a night game at the MCG and then go out after that and find that there was not only a paperback bookshop open but a coffee shop open as well. For somebody who had spent time in Perth in the 1990s, finding a sporting event, a bookshop and a coffee shop all open on a Friday night in the middle of the city was really quite something to behold. That coffee shop was Pellegrini's.

I was in Pellegrini's on that Friday evening with my dad. He remarked to me that this is what Melbourne was all about. Many of us have spent time making many visits to that place since. To say it holds a special place in the hearts of Melburnians doesn't go anywhere far enough in conveying the significance of this cultural institution. A lot has been said about it. When many of us heard the news that, in the attack that took place, Sisto Malaspina had lost his life, it struck pretty deeply for many people in Melbourne. I also remember where I was on the day that it happened. I was at a public housing estate. We all looked up, because we could see several helicopters flying over the city, within a stone's throw from where we were all gathering to have some soft drinks. We knew something had happened.

As it became apparent what had happened and the news went out to avoid that part of Bourke Street, it sunk in that potentially one of the worst events had hit home in a way that everybody had feared. We saw tragedy on the streets of Melbourne that day, but we also saw the best in people. We saw passers-by selflessly putting themselves in harm's way without knowing what was going on. We saw first responders doing it. First responders are trained to do it, which doesn't make the danger they put themselves in any less. Passers-by, without knowing what was happening, jumping in to try to stop further attacks is something that we would all like to think we would do, but how many of us would actually do it? To see people prepared to jump in to save someone they didn't know and try to stop further attacks from, again, someone they didn't know, an event unfolding in real time around them, speaks volumes about the human spirit. Amongst that tragedy we saw the best of Melbourne and the best of people.

In the following weeks since then I must say, as the member representing the area where that attack which has touched so many people took place, that it makes me feel so proud to know it has not divided us. Despite the calls from some to say that this issue should be treated politically and that a whole group of people should now be tarred with a particular brush because of the actions of one unwell individual, people came together and did not fall for it. That speaks volumes and makes me immensely proud to be the member for that area. One of the first phone calls that I made and conversations that I had immediately afterwards was with representatives of our local Somali community. They told me that they had already been out to the scene in the days afterwards to pay their respects, to talk with members of the community and to send the message that they too were grieving.

To know that thus far within Melbourne there haven't been the kinds of unjustified and unfair reprisals that we had feared against particular sections of the community is also something that makes me immensely proud. One of the things that I'm always reminded of when these attacks happen is that these attacks are indiscriminate; they're not targeting particular people on the basis of their particular religion. As my local Muslim community reminds me, it is the case that many more Muslims than members of other religions die from these kinds of terror attacks around the world. It is often the case that members of my community in Melbourne have come here because they have fled terror. People from Somalia fled al-Shabaab and the kind of terrorism that has taken hold there and have come here to seek a better life.

I stand not only with everyone who was suffering because they were close to Mr Malaspina or to someone who was injured but also with all those members of the community who felt perhaps fearful afterwards that they too were going to be targeted in different ways. I hope that members of those various Muslim and African Australian communities that we have in Melbourne, who make it the wonderful place that it is, have seen that in fact in the aftermath the majority of the population is with them. I think the overwhelming majority of people in Melbourne and indeed right around the country stand with them too and understand that the actions of one individual do not represent the actions of a whole group of people.

I went a little while ago with the state member for Melbourne, Ellen Sandell, to pay our respects and see the long line of flowers that was passing down the lane between Pellegrini's and the bookshop. To read through the condolences book inside Pellegrini's gives you a glimpse into the personal lives of so many people. It was great to hear the stories from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition about dates, successful and not so successful for them, at Pellegrini's. I think everyone has a story like that, which is why this has touched us so much.

If there's one thing that comes out of this, it's that we must continue to strive to make sure that Melbourne is a place where everyone has a place. The best way of ensuring that our community remains safe and that we do not experience these kinds of attacks in the future is to make sure that everyone understands that Melbourne is a place where they belong and that Australia is a place where they belong. If we want to make Australia safer, we will not divide our communities. If we want to make Australia safer, we will look to those communities where there are many people currently doing it tough, where unemployment and underemployment are going through the roof, and we as parliamentarians will make efforts to ensure that people are engaged, to ensure that we do not create in Australia classes of people who feel that they are being left behind, because it is only when people don't feel that they're included, don't feel part of the project that we are embarking on as a country, that they feel in a position where they could think about harming us. But, when people feel like they are part of us, like they are working together to make sure they have a good life—and we also take it upon ourselves to ensure that everyone in this country has a good life and feels that they're included—then the risks of these kinds of attacks diminish and diminish massively. So, if anything comes out of this, I hope it is that we continue to fan the flames of the best of us. Vale, Sisto Malaspina, and thank you once again to everyone who stepped in and put themselves in harm's way to help ensure safety on that day.

4:56 pm

Photo of Steve IronsSteve Irons (Swan, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I too rise today to speak on the Bourke Street terror attack which took place on Friday, 9 November, when terrorist Hassan Khalif Shire Ali crashed his ute into the Target centre, before it went up in flames and he began attacking people with a knife. I've just listened to part of the speech from the previous speaker, the member for Melbourne, who attempted to politicise this tragic accident and say it was the fault of the political class that this attack occurred. I certainly won't demean and trivialise the death of Sisto, who went to the aid of this person, by bringing politics into this issue. This was a tragedy that occurred in Australia, and it is the kind of thing that has occurred too often.

I will now talk about the actual tragedy—and the life that should be celebrated—and not politicise it. The city was sent into lockdown as Hassan Khalif Shire Ali did everything he could to intimidate and terrorise Australians going about their daily lives. That's exactly what it was: terrorism, nothing but terrorism. He wanted to terrify the people in Melbourne. It was an act of unlawful use of violence to intimidate and to create fear. We as Australians will never cop that. We will always live the way we have—with freedom to live—in this country, and no-one will ever take that away from us. I believe Australia is the greatest country on earth. It is the values and beliefs we hold as Australians that enable it to be the great country it is, and the sacrifices that have been made by many before us will never, ever be forgotten in the face of fear and terror. We will stand together and remain united.

I join with my parliamentary colleagues, with the speakers before me and those who will come after me, in condemning the act of terrorism that took place in Melbourne. I will continue to do everything I can in this place to ensure that we as Australians continue to prevail in the face of evil. I will not spend too much more time giving air to the atrocities committed by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali. Instead, I'd like to spend more of the time given to me to make this statement to remember the victims.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended 16:59 to 17:28

As I was saying, I'd like to spend the time given to me to make this statement to remember the victims and first responders of the terror attack on Bourke Street. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the first responders who were confronted by bloody scenes, to those who ran to help while most were trying to run away. It takes a special type of person to handle that sort of work—police, paramedics, nurses and doctors—who are able to keep a calm and steady disposition in the face of fear. I acknowledge the impact these scenes would have had on them, and I hope that they all have had the time to personally grieve and digest the things that they saw on 9 November.

Police identified the victims of the attack as a 24-year-old man from Hampton Park and 58-year-old Rod Patterson, who was with his wife, Maree, when he was caught up in the incident. Mr Patterson received a knife wound to the head while trying to assist and shield others from the attacker. Mr Patterson's actions have been hailed as heroic, and I, too, would like to extend to him my thanks for his bravery. But it is the tragic passing of Sisto Malaspina that makes this incident so devastating. Sisto owned and ran the iconic Melbourne cafe Pellegrini's, located in the heart of the CBD. As we heard at the funeral service, 'pellegrini' means 'pilgrims'. It was an honour to represent the Prime Minister, along with his wife, Jenny, at Sisto's funeral and to hear of the impact he had on the lives of so many people. It's my privilege to share with you a little of that today so that the Hansard has on record the incredible life of Sisto Malaspina.

Sisto was born in the Marche region of Italy. He was the youngest son, and his full name 'Sestilio' translates as No. 6. At Sisto's funeral, his son joked that his parents must have run out of names. David, whom I met after the funeral, gave a magnificent speech in honour of his father. Sisto, after arriving in Australia and marrying the love of his life, Vicki, bought Pellegrini's, which became an institution of Melbourne. He was the father of a son, David, and a daughter, Lisa. Sisto welcomed his first grandchild, Sofia, into the world just one week before he was taken from his family. I was lucky enough to see Sofia, and she is a beautiful baby. I'm sure she would have been better off growing up with her grandfather, but there will be many people who will tell her many stories of how good a man he was. It weighs heavy on my heart that Sofia has had her grandfather stolen from her before she had the chance to experience his love for her and his love for life itself.

Sisto's son, David, shared a moving eulogy, which paid tribute to his dad's work ethic and his amazing ability to make everyone feel special, and I think that has been evident in the outpouring of love we've seen at Pellegrini's. It was a request of the family that people wear bright colours to the funeral, and it was very special to see so many people wearing bright colours to pay their respects to the bright and charismatic personality of Sisto. My wife, Cheryle, pulled out my brightest yellow tie and made sure I wore it as a mark of respect for Sisto and the family. I've read many tributes that tell similar stories of Sisto sharing coffee with his customers whom he saw as friends and giving every person who knew him the gifts of time, a listening ear and a smile which could set the world right.

I didn't have the privilege of knowing Sisto personally, but, from the stories that I've heard about him, I wish I had. It's amazing how many people's lives he has touched. I'm sure we all know Bradley at the Virgin Lounge at Tullamarine. He worked for Sisto, and his sister worked for Sisto for four years. After I left the funeral, and Bradley told me about his experience with Sisto and how shattered his life was, I gave him a copy of the funeral documents from the day. He was moved because of his respect for, and knowledge of, Sisto and his family.

It is the Sistos of Melbourne who have made the city what it is today, particularly after the Second World War. It was the Sistos who created businesses, raised their families and worked hard after emigrating to Australia. They were honest, caring and kept an eye out for one another. Sisto came to Australia for the life that he was able to live here, and he lived it to the fullest every single day. And that's a reminder for all of us to do the same. He'll be missed but he'll be remembered.

I see the member for Melbourne Ports is about to speak. I saw him at the funeral as well, and I'm sure he'll agree with me that it was a fantastic and worthwhile send-off for a man of Sisto's character and community spirit, and I think the state funeral did him proud. Vale, Sisto, and condolences to his family.

5:34 pm

Photo of Michael DanbyMichael Danby (Melbourne Ports, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As it happens, the Thursday before Mr Malaspina was killed in the streets of Melbourne, I had a hearing of the Treaties Committee in the city. I don't go into the city much these days and I decided to flake off from the hearing and go to Pellegrini's for a bit of comfort food at lunchtime, as I have for 40 years. My late mother, Margaret, had an art gallery in Exhibition St. It's also around 40 years since her passing. As her assistant, I was paid in lasagne and would be sent up to Pellegrini's as a very sophisticated 14-year-old to have lunch there—to have, as someone said, a mocha in a glass and to have one of the wonderful apple strudels that Pellegrini's provided. Always sitting at the end of the counter was Mr Malaspina, with his signature cravat, the paper and a black coffee. Pellegrini's, symbolically, gave free black coffees to all of their longstanding customers the day they reopened after his tragic death.

I can't imagine a person who's more iconic to Melbourne who is not in show business or in politics or well known on TV and who so many people had an affection for and who embodied that great postwar immigration that Australia has benefited from. It's hard to imagine Melbourne without the Italians or the Italian contribution. Mr Malaspina always had a good word for people. He was always encouraging. He was always interested in sports. He was a strong Essendon supporter, and you'd always have a conversation with him there.

One of the things about Pellegrini's that's burned into the memories of Melburnians is that it has been the same since it opened. You sit at the bar there. You go there after the theatre for a gelato. You take a break during the day and have a coffee there. It was the first place in Melbourne that had a mocha coffee. I thought I was so sophisticated, at 14 or 15, having something like that there. And it was all made possible by Mr Malaspina and his partner. It's a great institution. People who don't go there for many years and then come back from overseas—they come back from travelling—and start working in the city always go into Pellegrini's and make use of it. My brother and his family often, in recent years, would go in there on a Friday night. The last time they did that was with my daughter prior to Simon's daughter, Shani, commencing work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the emergency department, where she's one of the leading nurses. So it's custom for the Danbys to go into the kitchen at Pellegrini's prior to Shani beginning work. It was not just our family custom; it was the custom of so many Melburnians to drop into that place for some comfort food—a signature place that embodied successful Italian migration and the wonderful culture that they brought to our state and our city.

The funeral at St Pat's was incredibly moving. I and Peter Khalil, the member for Wills, stood there waiting for the Leader of the Opposition, who joined us there. We saw so many people that are prominent in Melbourne life, in business and in politics. Ordinary people who we know from sports and from community organisations all were there to pay their respect. The funeral booklet is, indeed, incredibly tragic. It has a picture of him as a young, confident man in his striped shirt and cravat next to a picture of him in a similar kind of shirt—I wouldn't say the same shirt—with a cravat, holding his baby granddaughter. As the member for Swan said, Sofia was born one week before he was foully murdered by this terrorist. Many people have said to me that he embodied the ideal type of immigrant that came to Australia in the postwar immigration—hard working, friendly, family conscious, building up their own business, bringing their own culture to Melbourne and making it a much more cosmopolitan place.

I regret having to end this tribute to Mr Malaspina by noting something. I'm going to be writing about this and doing something more about it. I think it's important to say we have, in a nonpartisan way in this parliament, often done great things via the intelligence committee—that is, we've passed laws that have prevented mass casualty attacks. Of course, this attack was a paradigm of what these jihadists do all around the world—drive a vehicle full of gas bottles to try and blow it up amongst pedestrians, and then jump out and stab people. This happens in Kabul. This happens in London. This happens all around the world. We, here in the Australian parliament, have been very responsible, working together to try and minimise these problems, and I don't underestimate it. And because of the nature of the Australian Senate, the government and the opposition have to vote together in order to see these kinds of laws passed. There have been, some people say, 80 bills—I say it's closer to 50—that have dealt with this since 9/11, since 3,000 Americans and more than 10 Australians were murdered in the Twin Towers in New York.

Unfortunately, there is one group of people which hasn't supported that serious concern with the welfare, security and safety of ordinary Australians, and that's the Greens political party. In every piece of legislation since 9/11, the Greens political party have voted against measures taken by both the opposition and government, and no-one holds them to account. They have their secret state and national conferences. They have a very low bar that they're judged by. But I think there's no more sacred right of Australian citizens to have safety and security. That's the most important human right that this parliament guarantees for the citizens of this country.

An iconic person, who literally hundreds of thousands of Victorians, of Melburnians, or people who visit Pellegrini's from around Australia would have known through the decades since he took over ownership of that establishment in 1974, was murdered in the streets of Melbourne by one of these people who we've all done our best to prevent having success and killing even more people. We've been very successful, with legislation for foreign fighters and for 14- to 18-year-olds who were not previously catered for by the law who involved themselves in terrorist incidents, such as the terrible event that happened in Parramatta where a 15-year-old boy murdered a Chinese-Australian police accountant. We've done everything we can to prevent this. But we are not joined in our responsibility by people who are irresponsible, and they should be held to account. You can't live in a beautiful cosmopolitan, pluralist society like Australia and not do things to protect it. The vast majority of people here are very tolerant, very intelligent and determined to make sure that we continue to live in the kind of society that we do. The parliament embodies it by the sensible legislation that it has passed. We always do everything we can to protect people's civil liberties and human rights, and we have sunset clauses et cetera. I'm all in favour of that; but when we're faced with these dangers, we must act.

It's very unfortunate that in every piece of legislation—and I have research from the Parliamentary Library to show that—that the Greens political party is totally irresponsible and does not want to protect the safety of Australians, the primary human right of every citizen in this country.

5:44 pm

Photo of Kelly O'DwyerKelly O'Dwyer (Higgins, Liberal Party, Minister for Jobs) Share this | | Hansard source

We are here in the federal parliament today to honour the life of Sisto Malaspina, who died in an act of terror in Melbourne on the afternoon of Friday, 9 November. Sisto was co-owner of Melbourne's most famous cafe, Pellegrini's Espresso Bar, together with Nino Pangrazio, a constituent of mine and a man that I consider to be a friend. In the city that's undergoing constant change, Pellegrini's, the top end of Bourke Street, offers us a sense of timelessness, of a Melbourne gone by. There were two things in particular that you could always expect when you visited Pellegrini's: its seemingly never-changing menu and the warm and charming Italian men who served you there. The Pellegrini's menu is a classic, from minestrone soup to simple spaghetti Bolognese or lasagne, or carbonara sprinkled with powdered parmesan cheese on top and a thick slice of bread and butter on the side, to sweet grenata or an espresso from the identical brand of coffee that has been used there for the past 60 years.

But it was the staff who made any visit to Pellegrini's an event. When you entered the cafe you'd be walking into the middle of a conversation in an Italian movie scene. You could choose to join in or sit on your own at the bar and simply enjoy the solitude and time standing still. Many famous people have been to Pellegrini's, including Russell Crowe, Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins. Sisto—or Sestilio, as he was baptised—with his colourful shirts and stylish cravats, was one of those charming Italian men. He was warm, amusing and full of the joy of life. A tribute by John Masanauskas in the Herald Sun put it this way:

Everybody knew Sisto, and he knew everybody.

He was 73 years young. Six days before his tragic death he became a grandfather to baby Sofia, yet tragically Sisto died during a selfless act of kindness just a few hundred metres from his cafe. Upon seeing a vehicle aflame, Sisto immediately approached its owner to help, but he was stabbed to death by the same man, a terrorist, a man engaged in a senseless attempt to inflict terror on the city of Melbourne. Instead—and this is the great irony—Sisto's death and his final act of generosity united an entire city to love and to mourn Sisto Malaspina and his humanity. To Nino, I say that I know Sisto's passing deeply affects you and I know how close you were not only as business partners but also as friends. Your friendship with Sisto began when you worked together in a catering business a decade before you took over Pellegrini's. I know nothing that we can say in these circumstances can console, but I say, Nino, that you and Sisto have contributed to our country in many unforeseen ways.

Australia is arguably the coffee capital of the world and Melbourne the centre of its cafe culture, a culture that joins its people together in friendship and conversation every day at all hours of the day. It is variously reported that when Pellegrini brothers, Leo and Vildo, first opened the cafe in 1954 they imported Melbourne's first espresso machine. Lygon Street establishments claim that they were the first. I cannot verify which claim is correct, but if it is true or even nearly true it could then be said that the birthplace of Australia's vibrant cafe culture is in fact Pellegrini's. In 1974 the Pellegrinis passed the torch to Sisto and his partner, Nino. Fortunately for us, nothing much was changed, nothing modernised, and the Pellegrini's sign itself is now heritage listed. Many cafes that came after Pellegrini's have tried to emulate the tradition of providing an atmosphere of being welcomed and being given good food, good coffee and good company. What a wonderful legacy and what a brave man! To the Pellegrini family of staff—which is, of course, what they are—to Nino and his family; and to Sisto's wife, Vicki, and their children, David and Lisa, I, like so many Australians, offer my deepest condolences. May Sisto rest in peace.

5:49 pm

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Schools) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to make a brief contribution to this important debate on indulgence. I start by associating myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. It was a privilege to be in the House for their remarks, which summed up our response to tragic events and our responsibility to look beyond those events.

In making some very brief remarks, I want to speak as a Melburnian about what unites us. I was very pleased to be here for the contribution of Minister O'Dwyer, the member for Higgins. I'm also very pleased to be here with you Deputy Speaker Kevin Andrews and my friends the member for Melbourne Ports and the member for Deakin—all Melburnians, who differ on issues from time to time but, I think, share a love of our city and a responsibility towards it in this place and as Melburnians.

I want to talk both about what happened in Bourke Street and what it means and also about Pellegrini's and what it means and what Sisto meant to so many. I will do so in turn briefly. I've only been in this parliament a very short time, and this is the third occasion that I've spoken on indulgence about a senseless act of terror in Melbourne—with different causes, actually. It brings me enormous sadness, and I think it presents us all with a great challenge to recognise all of the great issues that we have to wrestle with and to recognise the burden that's placed on our first responders—and I acknowledge their efficiency, their professionalism and indeed their heroism, and that of the ordinary Melburnians.

Those of us who have spent our working life, or a large proportion of it, in the city understand the dynamics of Bourke Street at peak hour on a Friday. It's pretty easy to think about what an awful change those few moments presented to all involved, not just Sisto, who tragically lost his life, and others who were injured—and I know my friend the member for Bass will touch on that shortly—but to all of us. How do we get the balance right between facilitating the joy and excitement that is Melbourne on a Friday evening, celebrating the freedoms that we cherish, celebrating our civil liberties, and ensuring we are all kept safe? I know that we have processes in this place which have served us well, and there are processes undertaken by the Victorian government too. It is important that we strive for bipartisanship. It's important that we strive to engage community on this journey—in particular, the wider Muslim Australian community, especially those who I am very proud to represent in this place, in the electorate of Scullin, who have expressed their horror at the events that defile their religion as well as our city.

To Pellegrini's: I think all of us have memories, and I don't pretend that mine are particularly important beyond myself, but I think that, in Pellegrini's, we see an icon and, in Sisto, the embodiment of that icon, of generosity, of our best side—a multiculturalism born of sharing and an interest in others which I think characterises Melburnians at our best. I think it was a fitting recognition of an extraordinary individual that the Premier offered the Malaspina family a state funeral. It says a lot about Melbourne. We care a lot about coffee, and we care more about people who shape our city. It was wonderful to see the representation at that funeral, and it was a privilege to hear from the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, who represented the Prime Minister there, and to share his reflections. Perhaps even more wonderful than the acts of political leadership was the extraordinary response from individual Melburnians talking about the joy that Sisto had given them and their families and people that they care about. I think of many bowls of pasta and many more post-lunch espressos enjoyed at the bar, and the atmosphere that was part-cafe, part-theatre that Sisto curated—I think that might be the word. Those memories will live on, as will our enduring love and respect for the man. Our thoughts, of course, are with his family, and I extend them also to those who knew him and loved him more generally.

I ask myself, 'Where to from here?' in considering both of these things—our recognition of Sisto and those directly affected and our response to the challenge.

Well, I think there are complicated debates that require consideration, but there's also the question of our human response, and I was particularly struck by the closing remarks of the Leader of the Opposition when he spoke on this matter. He reflected on his last encounter and invited us to imagine our last encounter, and I think of this as being not just the last conversation between the member for Maribyrnong and Sisto Malaspina but how we always treat those who matter to us—not knowing how many opportunities we have to continue to enjoy their company. I think the invocation for those of us who are charged with legislating and making executive decisions on behalf of Melburnians and Australians is to think hard about the security challenges and to think hard about getting the balance between national security and the preservation of civil liberties right, which is, of course, the purpose of those national security arrangements, but also to think about our responsibility to each other as humans and as citizens, to think about the kindness that requires and to think about what the challenge that the Leader of the Opposition's reflections on a last conversation that he never imagined would be a last conversation means. Rest in peace, Sisto.

5:56 pm

Photo of Josh FrydenbergJosh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Liberal Party, Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to pay tribute to a great Melburnian and a great Australian, Sisto Malaspina, who bought Pellegrini's with his friend Nino Pangrazio in 1974. Pellegrini's was established in 1954 and was famous for importing Australia's first espresso machine. Now there's an espresso machine on every corner. Sisto turned out to be a custodian for a great Italian tradition in Australia and helped grow Pellegrini's into the institution it is today. Sisto, along with his wife, Vicki, was a constituent of mine in Kooyong, and his only granddaughter, Sofia, was born one week before his death. He was known for his collection of cravats and for his generosity to all those who entered his cafe. One of my electorate staff, Maria Benedetti, tells the story of her son, Nick, turning up at the cafe in his Xavier uniform. He went to pay and Sisto said to him: 'Don't pay now. Come back when you've graduated.'

Sisto wasn't born in Australia, but he represented what Australia is: an accepting, progressive, multicultural, free society. It's best summed up in what he said about his coffee, his passion and his beloved city of Melbourne. As the Prime Minister told the chamber, in Italy they follow a bible when it comes to drinking coffee: Italians usually don't drink cappuccinos after midday, and it's unthinkable to have one after dinner. But, in Australia, Sisto didn't follow those rules. He'd say, 'People should drink their coffee how they like it, the way they like it, when they like it.' As the Prime Minister said, it might sound like a small thing, but that respect for others, tolerance and acceptance of difference are the foundation of modern society and modern Australia, the most successful immigrant country in the entire world and something we should be very proud of.

In a quiet moment before coming back to Canberra just a little while ago, I dropped in to Pellegrini's to have a mandarin granita and to talk to the locals. The mood was very sombre but resilient. The staff came and said hello, and we shared a hug. The message that all the members in this place send to the people of Australia is that events like this shouldn't divide us and events like this shouldn't defeat us. Rather, they should unite us in redoubling our efforts to continue with the things that make Australia great.

Sisto had a smile. Sisto had passion. Sisto was a patriot, and he never forgot his immigrant roots. We pay tribute to Sisto in the nation's parliament today for upholding the very Australian way of life that he, himself, helped create.

6:00 pm

Photo of Ross HartRoss Hart (Bass, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this statement of indulgence with respect to the events that occurred in Bourke Street, Melbourne, on Friday, 9 November 2018. I've read—indeed, heard—many heartfelt tributes to Sisto Malaspina, who was killed in the attack. He was clearly, and justifiably, regarded as a Melbourne institution. From those tributes, he appeared to me to embody an aspect of Melbourne that speaks of its open, friendly engagement with people from all cultures and the magic that comes from the combination of hospitality, wine, coffee, and food.

But I want to speak today about a constituent. That constituent is Rod Patterson, who is one of the persons injured in the attack. Another person was injured—a 24-year-old security guard. It is appropriate that I explain that less than two weeks before this incident Rod gave an address at my uncle's funeral. Rod gave a marvellous address encapsulating the life, loves, and activities of my uncle, Terry Powell. Rod and Terry were good friends, neighbours, and co-conspirators in many escapades—sometimes involving late-night beers—and saw each other's children grow up. I know that Terry would not have been surprised that Rod ran towards a burning vehicle, implicitly placing himself in danger—even if this had been some sort of benign accident—seemingly without care for his safety. Rod was a former firefighter. He said in an interview with ABC after his release from hospital:

The old fireman Rod came out of me. I got up, raced over, and I'm looking inside the cabin, because the driver side door was burst open, to see whether there was someone I was going to pull out, and there was no-one inside.

Rod was attacked, as was Sisto and the other victim. Sisto was fatally stabbed. Rod ended up receiving a 10-centimetre-long gash that had cut through muscle and, importantly, an artery, and required more than 120 internal and external stitches.

As we've heard today, we live in a fortunate country, where bystanders will rush towards danger, without consideration for their safety, in order to assist those who might require their help. It is difficult for us to understand the motivations behind such terror attacks—whether or not the perpetrator suffers from a mental illness or whether the delusion is driven by a particular ideology. But it's also difficult to understand that our police, firefighters, paramedics and our hospital surgeons, nurses, and OA staff have to engage with the consequences of those deluded acts, and do so with such confidence that they are doing the right thing in protecting the safety of the general public. I know that training assists in ensuring that even retired firefighters instinctively react—as they've done in the past—to protect lives and rescue those in danger. We owe all of them a debt of gratitude for their service—indeed, their instinctive reactions. I think also of the police who may have thought that they were attending a traffic accident and ultimately had to act at the highest level to protect human life—ultimately confronting the offender.

Such is the immediacy of modern communication that many of us saw, on hastily shot video shared on social media, the attack and the aftermath of the incident in almost real-time, whatever we were doing at that time and wherever we were. But this brings me back to my acknowledgement of the actions of Rod Patterson. Just as communication of the terror incident spread through social media, multiple informal and formal networks shared the information that a Northern Tasmanian man had been involved and had been injured as a result of the terror attack. The fact that a person that many people in my community know and trust was caught in the Bourke Street terror attack emphasised to me that security long ago ceased to be regarded as an abstract consideration.

We know that our response to the threat of terrorism cannot and must not be one-dimensional. The fact is that a person seeking to do harm as a terrorist or, for that matter, to exploit public fear for notoriety for whatever purpose can utilise low-tech means to cause that harm. In this environment a person may use a vehicle as a weapon or could, as in this case, use LPG cylinders and a knife for deadly effect.

I would like to think that, in assessing the risks of homegrown terrorism, proper regard is had to the likelihood that a mentally ill person either might be motivated to cause harm to others based upon a delusion or may in turn be susceptible to manipulation to achieve that same end. In essence, therefore, just as we have learned that engagement with particular ethnic and religious communities is important to ensure that dangerous ideologies are identified and reported, so too do we need to be conscious that at least in the area of mental health there may be many undiagnosed and untreated persons who may pose a threat if they become exposed to particular ideologies or their delusions lead them to believe that confrontation with police and/or security services can further their misguided objectives. In other words, the identification of potential risks to public safety extends beyond merely a review of persons who may have been exposed to terrorist ideology. It also extends to a person who by reason of their particular circumstances or their mental health or drug induced delusions may be more susceptible to seeing violence as a tool that they can use to make a statement, whether that statement is for political purposes or is later coopted for political purposes or not.

Having said that, the undeniable truth is that, whether Victoria Police faced that particular assailant on 9 November or whether they faced another assailant in a different situation on another sort of criminal rampage, they were and are required to act to protect human life. My most heartfelt thanks and respect is extended to all the first responders—the police, the paramedics, the ambulance officers and others who step in to address the aftermath of significant public events occasioning trauma and/or death. Sometimes those responders are volunteers in every sense of the word. Rod Patterson was one such volunteer. He ran into danger and was subsequently stabbed in the head for his trouble.

Rod, I know my fellow citizens of Launceston and Northern Tasmania are proud of your actions in seeking to rescue someone from a burning vehicle but ending up in hospital as a result of the attack. Your generosity of spirit and your willingness to chip in and help assorted charities and assorted causes in my community, whether in business or in your personal life, mean that there are many people wishing you the very best for a safe and speedy recovery. Well done, Rod.

Sisto, I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you. It's clear to me that your legend will live on.

6:09 pm

Photo of Michael SukkarMichael Sukkar (Deakin, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's a melancholy duty for all of us here in the chamber today to speak on this motion, offering condolences on the death of Sisto Malaspina, particularly for all the Melburnians in the chamber. A lot has been said about Sisto Malaspina. The reality is, for anyone born and bred in Melbourne—and there are hundreds of thousands of people who fall into this category—who attended or dined at Pellegrini's, or visited, you felt like you knew Sisto. Sisto made you feel special. The way Sisto greeted you when you walked in the door was the embodiment of who he was. In my life, I probably only visited Pellegrini's half a dozen times, and even I felt great emotion when I first heard of Sisto's tragic death. It came home to me just how many people were feeling the same way, because we all felt we knew him—he embodied our values.

I want to pay my deepest condolences to his wife, Vicky, and children, David and Lisa. How tragic that just a week earlier his granddaughter Sofia was born. How tragic—the happiness and the emotion for that family, for Sisto and his granddaughter—it was spoken about his funeral—to have that ripped away from them, in the way it was, is so tragic.

Sisto must never be remembered for the way his life ended. He has to be remembered for the way he lived his life. Coming to Australia in 1963, he displayed, he demonstrated—as I said earlier, he epitomised—the migrant experience into Australia. He came here, he rolled his sleeves up, he lived and enjoyed the freedom of Australia, he created employment for others, he created prosperity for others, he brought joy to so many people, and of course he built a better life for his family. Isn't that the migrant experience? Isn't that the motivation for people who come to Australia—to ensure that their children and grandchildren have better opportunities than they had themselves? And, boy, did Sisto make the most of those opportunities. He opened Pellegrini's with his very good friend, Nino Pangrazio. As was referred to at the funeral, Nino and Sisto were a bit like salt and pepper. What an enduring partnership they had in a friendship sense, in a business sense, that, again, demonstrates the sort of person that Sisto was.

I want to remark, just very briefly, on the tragic circumstances that led to his death. By no means should Sisto's life be defined by this, but the reality is Sisto, a generous, kind-hearted man, saw somebody in trouble—or so he thought—in Bourke Street, and without flinching, without questioning, he went to that person's aid. He saw a car on fire in the middle of Bourke Street. Without thinking, he went to help that person. Tragically, shockingly, as it turned out, that person was the one who ripped him away from his family and from all Melburnians.

This is a serious challenge for our country. The member for Melbourne Ports outlined it very wisely. It's a challenge that we have to ensure we're up to. It's a challenge that, to date, Australia has done a good job on. But fundamentalist Islamic terrorism is something that is not just a theoretical problem that we discuss in universities or parliaments. It affects the lives of real people. It has affected the life of this great man, his family, his friends and, as I said, the many, many hundreds of thousands of people impacted by it. So that's what, in the end, motivates all of us in this chamber: to ensure that we keep Australians safe and that we never, ever wave the white flag on fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, and do everything we have to to combat this very insidious ideology.

But, again, I think it's more fitting to end on a high note: speaking about Sisto Malaspina's life. I was on the phone to a friend of mine last night who happened to just mention the number of times that he and his wife would attend Pellegrini's. Before the theatre it was always packed; you could never get a seat. The last time they were there, which was only a couple of months ago, Sisto said, 'If you don't mind, come down the back. I've got a couple of spots on a crate in the kitchen.' Doesn't that just highlight the generosity, the warmth, the mark of the man? We've heard so many similar stories, and, indeed, we all have a Sisto story.

Rest in peace, Sisto Malaspina. Thank you for your life. Thank you for the example you've set for us all. I hope we can live up to that example and ensure that we don't suffer—and that nobody suffers—in the way you have again.

6:15 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Like all Melburnians—and I'm flanked by Melburnians in the chamber this evening—I was sickened to hear of the events that unfolded on Bourke Street on 9 November. Our lively and vibrant city was brought to a standstill at the hands of one lone individual who intentionally set out to inflict harm on and damage the identity of our city by threatening the freedoms that we all enjoy. Like all locals, I was bewildered to learn that someone who was raised and had lived amongst us could be capable of inflicting such violence. Equally, I was perplexed by the lack of respect for human life and for our wonderful community. Like all locals, I was angered that the unforgivable, murderous action of one individual had cast a dark cloud over our broader, proud and inclusive community—a community that was built on and proudly fosters diversity and multiculturalism.

Like all the others who've spoken today in this chamber, I express my thanks and appreciation for the efforts of the first responders. I thank members of the Victoria Police who acted so swiftly and in such a disciplined manner. I add my praise to the members of the public who assisted so quickly and, equally, thank the emergency service crews for their professional response. There is pride in the efforts of these first responders, whose humanitarian instinct in the face of such an appalling act was to help. It affirms the spirit of Melbourne.

And I know I join the Melbourne community and our local Italian community in Werribee, Werribee South and across Wyndham in mourning the loss of a great contributor to our marvellous, multicultural Melbourne story. Sisto lost his life doing what we hope we would all do: going to someone to offer help when they appeared to need it—because that is what our community is all about, and that is what makes me proud to call Melbourne home. Like everyone, it is that fact that touches me and appals me most.

Sisto Malaspina embodied multicultural Melbourne, and his contribution to our community is one that is symbolic of this. Many will have fond memories of the man who, like many others in our community, left behind his country of birth and loved ones to build a new life and a new home in Melbourne. I didn't know Sisto personally. I've probably been to Pellegrini's, but I know Sistos that I grew up next to. I know Sistos who came to our community in Werribee after the war to make a new life. I know, too, that hospitality is a universal value, and I know that, in my community, I can go to modern coffee shops now. I think of Chatterbox in Watton Street, where a young Lebanese Muslim man has created a new place that, like Pellegrini's, serves people daily. It is the heartbeat of our local community. If you want to know what's going on, you step into Chatterbox.

So, although I didn't know Sisto, I know that, like many Melburnians from all corners of the earth who brought their heritage with them, Sisto brought to Bourke Street his proud Italian heritage, as have many others in my community, and shared it with the thousands of customers who walked through the doors of his famous Pellegrini's Espresso Bar. The loss to Melbourne is deep, not just because this individual touched so many lives, as we've heard here today, but because he epitomises the Melbourne story. I extend my sincere condolences to Sisto's family, friends and customers. I express my deepest sympathy to all those in our community who have been touched by this tragedy and hope they, like me, take solace in knowing that the murderous actions of one individual do not reflect our broad, inclusive, multicultural community.

I would end on this note. I have spoken to several young people from the Somali community in my local area, and I want to share with this House that they share the thoughts that are being delivered here today. They feel injured and they are finding it difficult to express their emotions about these events and how they reflect now on them. They're struggling. So I would encourage those who know members of the Somali community to reach out to them to make sure that they are not isolated because of the actions of one deranged, murderous individual.

6:21 pm

Photo of Peter KhalilPeter Khalil (Wills, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

While as Melburnians, as Victorians and as Australians, we're all again shocked and angered by the terrorist attack in the heart of Melbourne on Bourke Street on 9 November, it's probably true to say we've been here before. We've experienced this collective trauma, this hatred, many times before. Again, in response, we are resolved to defeat the hatred that drives these terrorist attacks. But we're also deeply saddened by these events, and all our thoughts pour out to the families of the victims. As the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have said in their remarks in the House today, Sisto Malaspina, the co-owner of the iconic, famous Pellegrini's cafe restaurant, was stabbed and killed by this terrorist.

I, like thousands of Melburnians, knew and loved Sisto. I would go into Pellegrini's for a coffee or a pasta, and he'd force me to have a dessert on top of that, every time. You can see that he did his job well. His warmth, his joy and his generosity of spirit have been a mainstay in our city for decades. He was full of life, and, in death, he was really a hero, too, because, by all accounts, Sisto's last act in his very colourful life was an act of kindness in going to the aid of this terrorist when his car caught fire. Sisto could only have assumed that this fellow was in trouble, so the last act in his life was an act of kindness, in going to someone to assist them. The terrorist left his vehicle and stabbed and killed Sisto, but, having done that, he was unable to then drive the car further down Bourke Street to a more crowded location to blow it up. So, if there had been no kindness from Sisto in that last act of his life, many more innocent people would probably have died that day. Sisto's final act of kindness contrasted so dramatically with the last hateful acts of that murderer, and it undoubtedly saved many lives.

There's been an outpouring of grief in Melbourne and around Australia, and I think that reflects the joy Sisto gave to so many during his life. But I think his act of kindness also touched a nerve, because it really symbolised the elemental struggle we all face between love and hatred, good and evil, kindness to others as opposed to wanton destruction. He will be so, so missed by the community. His son, David, spoke beautifully about his father at the state funeral, and my condolences also go out to his family and the broader Pellegrini's family that loved him so much.

As to the causes of these terrorist acts, we've discussed this many times in this place. We know that the terrorist was a radicalised individual. There are some reports that he was mentally unstable at the least, and we know that radicalisation preys on those who are vulnerable to that process. Much has been said of the Prime Minister's calls for Muslim leaders to do more. All I can say is that most of the Islamic and Muslim community leaders—the sheikhs and the imams—particularly in my electorate, and, I know, right across the state and the nation, are working very, very hard to support their youth, to create inclusive environments and to make sure that their young people are on the right path and protected from this radicalisation. And, of course, it's important to engage with the government on the state and federal level to make that happen and to prevent radicalisation. Of course, we know that our intelligence and security agencies already work so well behind the scenes, and very effectively, with the Muslim community. There is no denying that the Australian Muslim community is absolutely critical to breaking that cycle. The work that they do with our agencies and with state and federal governments is absolutely important.

Let me just say this to the Australian Muslim community and to the community in my electorate and across the nation: you are not responsible for the actions of one individual. We know the work you are doing to actually help fight radicalisation in your own communities. That is something that is as critically important to your communities as it is to the broader Australian community.

We in government, and our agencies, look at the research around radicalisation—what actually works, how we can apply that to both policy and counterterrorism efforts, the mechanisms and avenues that are in place that break down barriers with law enforcement and social, medical and educational services—so that we can reach those individuals before they become a problem. The work that's done with all of the agencies in government to forge those connections is so important—the connections with community leaders, with family, with friends, who work day to day with their young people to support and include them and actually protect them from harm.

Lastly, I want to say that as political leaders in this place we must make a choice. There are really two types of political leadership. There's the type that seeks to unite Australians—to work with them, despite their background, their ethnicity or their faith—and seeks to push away the forces of division and hatred. Then there's the type of leadership—I wouldn't even call it leadership—the kind of politics that uses fear and preys on the fears of people to divide people based on race, ethnicity or faith. Often, that's done for short-term political gain. Often it's done as an easy way—a shortcut—to gain votes. My colleagues and I, and many colleagues on the other side, agree that we need much more of the political leadership that seeks to unite us. When we're faced with these threats, when we're faced with these challenges—the threats that we face within our community, but also externally—we have to remain united against those threats. The Australian Muslim community is part of that united team. They're a critically important part of helping us fight those threats.

In many respects, we owe it to all of the victims of terror—to Sisto, his family, all those injured and all the victims—to get this right, to make this work. In closing, I know that the Malaspina family are suffering greatly at the moment, but they do take great comfort in the knowledge of his remarkable legacy to the city of Melbourne and the joy that he's given to so many thousands of Melburnians, and interstate and international visitors as well. He really has touched our country in ways that make us proud of the multicultural and migrant country that we live in, because Sisto is the type of person who demonstrates the success of multicultural Australia—the hard work that he did, the life that he built and the joy that he spread around him and his community. May he rest in peace. My condolences to the Malaspina family and all of those who've been touched and have suffered under these terrible attacks. May he rest in peace.