Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 April 2019


Christchurch: Attacks

12:07 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move:

That the Senate––

(a) records its condemnation of the terrorist attack on the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques by an Australian citizen in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 that claimed 50 innocent lives as they came to prayer, and our grief for and solidarity with the people of New Zealand who have suffered this terrible and appalling assault on the quiet peace of their nation;

(b) records its sorrow and sympathy for the 50 lives lost on 15 March, for those still fighting for their lives, and for their families;

(c) expresses its solidarity with the Muslim community of Christchurch, New Zealand and our own nation at this time of affliction;

(d) honours the courage and presence of first responders, and all who came to help in whatever way they could;

(e) abhors racism and religious intolerance, acknowledge and celebrate the diversity and harmony of our Australian people and our respect for people from all faiths, cultures, ethnicities and nationalities that has made Australia one of the world's most successful immigration nations and multicultural societies; and

(f) reaffirms our commitment as Australians to peace over violence, innocence over evil, understanding over extremism, liberty over fear and love over hate.

It is just over a century now since on the shores of Gallipoli and in theatres across Europe the Anzacs forged that most enduring and precious of ties with our allies, our friends and, as the Prime Minister has said, our family in New Zealand. That experience, that shared sacrifice and loss, built a bond to last the ages. In the more than 100 years since then our two nations have grown ever closer. Many New Zealanders treat Australia as their second home and, likewise, many of our fellow citizens live and are welcomed across the Tasman.

Ours are two nations united by so much more than geography. We are united by a common history and a common set of values. That is why the horrific attacks at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques affected us so deeply. It is why we rallied together, as senators, as parliamentarians and as Australians, to so totally condemn that vile act and the repulsive white supremacist ideology that inspired it. It is why the hand we extend in sympathy is not just that of a neighbour but of one dear friend grieving for the suffering of another.

There must be no mistaking it: the Christchurch attacks were crimes committed against innocent men, women and children; people who were active contributors in their community and nation as students, business owners, parents, sportspeople and more. But there was also an attack on an idea: the idea that people can celebrate diversity, not abhor it; the idea that a nation can be home to people of a great diversity of different faiths, races and creeds and find strength in that difference, not weakness.

Christchurch is a beautifully welcoming city: a city in which people seek to live their lives, raise their families and practise their faith in safety and security; a city in which people should be confident that they will be accepted for who they are, not maligned, not attacked and most certainly not killed. But Christchurch is also a city of great resilience. In recent years it has been no stranger, sadly, to heartache, be it as a result of a natural disaster or, as on 15 March, at the hands of a terrorist individual. We are deeply saddened by the hurt that the Christchurch community is experiencing. We also know that, for all the pain of the moment, its people are strong and know what it means to grow as a community in the wake of even the worst tragedies. The atrocity in Christchurch is a grave reminder that evil remains with us today and that all of us, in our words and in our deeds, have a responsibility to fight it; a responsibility to, as this motion states, choose 'peace over violence, innocence over evil, understanding over extremism, liberty over fear and'—above all else—'love over hate'.

To all those still grieving for their lost loved ones or recovering from injuries sustained on that grim afternoon: the thoughts and prayers of this parliament and the people that it serves are with you. To the Muslim communities of Christchurch, New Zealand and Australia: we stand in solidarity with you. Your right to observe your faith is that which should be enjoyed by every person everywhere. It is inalienable and undeniable. And to all those who fan the flames of racism, hatred and violence: we utterly condemn and reject you.

In their moment of suffering, the charity and kindness that the people of Christchurch and New Zealand have displayed are proof that their values, and ours, of tolerance, compassion and diversity cannot be shaken. In taking so many innocent lives, the perpetrator of this act sought to divide New Zealand. But he has been defied, and the people of New Zealand have united. Their defiance is also shown through the strength displayed by first responders and others who saved so many lives that day. Among them were Naim Rasheed, who made the ultimate sacrifice while trying to thwart the attack, and Abdul Aziz Wahabzadah, who put his life on the line to distract the attacker. We can only guess how many were saved by their brave acts. But we can be absolutely sure that, in their courage and example, we saw the very worst of human nature being met by the very best.

I also commend Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the resolve and compassion that she has displayed in the wake of the shooting. As she has comforted her nation and steered it through its darkest days, she has won the affection and admiration of many in Australia and around the world.

On the day of the attacks, Prime Minister Morrison spoke of numbness and shock. There are some acts too evil to comprehend, acts which jar not just with the nation's values but with human decency itself. Now, over two weeks on, we reaffirm our commitment to push past that numbness and tackle this evil, both with our friends in New Zealand and here at home, by building bridges between communities and ensuring that all people can feel safe in the observance of their faith. We can repudiate the Christchurch attacker's aims and make it clear that his sick cause is doomed to fail.

In moving this motion, I put on the record my gratitude and that of the government for the opposition's strong support and for that of so many other colleagues on the crossbench. It has been heartening to see so many political and community leaders from across Australia cross the Tasman in recent weeks to convey our people's sympathies to those still reeling from the attack. Sometimes events unfold which have a moral weight that transcends partisan politics. This is certainly one such very sad occasion.

Over the past two weeks, in tributes and vigils, in words written and donations given, the Australian people have expressed their total solidarity with our friends in New Zealand and with the Muslim communities in both of our nations. They rightly expect those they have sent here to reflect their will and turn it resolutely into action. It is with that in mind, and with our sincere sympathies again for all those who have suffered loss as a result of this horrific attack, that I commend this motion to the Senate.

12:16 pm

Photo of Penny WongPenny Wong (SA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise on behalf of the Australian Labor Party to support the condolence motion moved by Senator Cormann, and I hope that the bipartisan support we offer will be reflected ultimately in the support of the broadest possible vote across this chamber.

Just over two weeks ago, 50 New Zealanders were murdered in a tragic act of violence—mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons gunned down at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, killed in their place of worship as they came together for Friday prayers. So I begin by expressing our compassion, our sympathy and our support to friends and families of all lost and all who are injured and recovering. We stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand, with the Muslim community and with Muslim peoples everywhere.

The stories of the victims are heartbreaking: teenagers and children as young as three and four years old; a brave woman who helped to save others, other women and children, but was shot dead when she went back into the Al Noor Mosque to help her wheelchair-bound husband; people who had come to New Zealand as refugees, escaping war, civil strife and conflict in their own home countries, to be attacked in a place of peace and sanctuary—and they were attacked because of their faith. The attacks were horrific acts of violence. They were acts of terrorism and, at their core, they were acts of hatred—and this we must understand: these were acts of hatred. The terrorist was welcomed into the mosque as a brother, and he responded with hate and with bullets. It is an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, that has shocked this nation.

For Australians, New Zealanders are family, and we mourn with them, and our distress has been magnified by the fact that the right-wing violent extremist responsible for this act of terror is an Australian—an extremist, right-wing, violent Australian terrorist. I hope I speak for all of us when I say this man does not represent Australian values. This man is not who we are. To the Muslim community in New Zealand and across our nation, we say: we know you are experiencing pain and sorrow, and we stand with you. We abhor these acts of extremist violence. We reject the extreme right-wing ideology, the hatred and the intolerance that led to and fuelled these acts of extremist violence, and, most importantly, we reject hatred in all its forms.

Together we stand for Australian values: inclusion, acceptance and respect; a belief in equality; the rejection of racism; the rejection of prejudice; the rejection of division. These are the values of our Australia. This is the nation in which we have faith. And it is the responsibility of all leaders—political, community, religious—to stand united against hatred, because we saw, tragically, in the loss of life in Christchurch where hatred leaves us. We know these truths: a nation divided is never stronger; making others lesser, fanning prejudice and discrimination has never made a nation safer; and no group within our society is immune from the effects of hatred. We know it is the responsibility of all of us to stand against hatred in all its forms and embrace tolerance, acceptance and honour our shared humanity.

In New Zealand we have seen the power of leadership. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has demonstrated the power of a leader who stands firm in the face of hate and fear, a leader who demonstrates love and gives hope, a leader who rejects division and embraces unity. Speaking at the Christchurch memorial on Friday, Prime Minister Ardern spoke as this kind of leader. She said:

Racism exists, but it is not welcome here.

She went on to say:

An assault on the freedom of any one of us who practices their faith or religion, is not welcome here.

Violence, and extremism in all its forms, is not welcome here.

And over the last two weeks we have shown that, you have shown that, in your actions.

This is the leadership that we must all demonstrate if we are to end the cycle of extremism, to end the cycle of hatred that underpins this. And it is leadership that has been reflected by and enhanced by the actions and words of the New Zealand people, the people of New Zealand, in how they have responded to this.

The power of our shared humanity to overcome hate was on display most powerfully by Farid Ahmed. Farid is the husband of the brave woman about whom I spoke. Farid and Hosne were in separate rooms at the Al Noor mosque and, after leading women and children to safety, Hosne returned to the mosque to help Farid, who uses a wheelchair and could not flee. She was shot and killed. He survived. Speaking at the memorial on Friday, Farid spoke about the journey he had been on in the two weeks following the attack. He said:

This heart doesn't like that the pain I have gone through that any human being should go through that kind of pain.

And he went on to say:

That's why I have chosen peace. I have chosen love and I have forgiven.

Each human being is my brother, is my sister. This is my faith and this is what Allah has taught me. That's why I do not hate him and I cannot hate him. I cannot hate anyone.

Farid demonstrates the power of love to overcome pain and sadness. Let us honour his graciousness and let us respond in kind.

In the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks, the Imam Hasan Centre issued a statement. It is a statement I think is notable for its graciousness, and one which I have drawn on in the days following the attack:

It is times like this that we lose hope and doubt humanity, when people of faith come under attack in such a way, it shows us how low humanity can fall. However, it never ceases to amaze how far humanity can rise after such despicable events.

United as a community, we can overcome these barbaric events wherever they happen. Divided we become barbaric ourselves and the innocent lives lost around the world should be a sign for us to unite against hate.

This is a moment, this is the time to show those who seek to divide us just how far humanity can rise. In the words of a Maori proverb: he aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. It means: 'What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.'

To the people of New Zealand and, in particular, the New Zealand Islamic community: your Australian family grieves with you. And, like you, we mourn the tragic loss of life. We stand with you in this time of sorrow and sadness and we commit to standing against hatred in all its forms. And we commit to working together towards a society where all are welcome and all may live in peace and security. My hope is that as leaders we will, once again, work together to articulate and defend the Australian values and principles that underpin who we are and what we believe: the values of inclusion, acceptance, respect and equality. Let us choose unity, not division. Let us choose respect, not prejudice. Let us choose hope, not fear. And, above all, let us all choose love, not hate. In doing so we make our nation stronger, at home and in the world.

12:25 pm

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise on behalf of the Greens to also pay our condolences to the families of the victims of the horrific terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. These were people who were killed at a moment of contemplation, at a moment of deep reflection, at a time when they were in communion with their God—killed at their most vulnerable.

Amongst those 50 who lost their lives or were injured in the terrorist attack were people who hailed from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Syria, Pakistan and Palestine. Yes, they were Muslims, but they were also New Zealanders. They are people like Naeem Rashid, who lunged at the gunman to try to save the lives of his fellow worshippers and who was murdered in the process; people like Khaled Mustafa, originally from Syria, who was killed alongside his 16-year-old son, Hamza; people like Hamza's schoolmate Sayyad Milne, who was just 14 years old; and people like Mohammed Daoud Nabi, a 71-year-old man from war-torn Afghanistan who was heard, as the killer walked through the doors of the mosque, to say in greeting the words: 'Welcome, brother.'

We owe it to every single person whose life was stolen that day to remember their names, to remember their lives, to remember the lives that will go unlived because of the horrendous actions of a terrorist. We owe it to remember them not just because they're Muslims—although they were—and not just because they are New Zealanders and we share a deep relationship with that country but because they were one of us, because they were part of our collective humanity.

Like the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition, we express our thoughts and sympathies to those whose lives were stolen and to all those whose lives were left behind. But, as we said shortly afterwards and as we continue to say, thoughts and sympathies now are not enough. Thoughts and sympathies won't protect our Muslim community from the daily abuses and hatred that they experience. They won't protect people from the hate speech that we continue to see right here and around the world. They won't help heal the deep divides in our country. Now is a time for solidarity, for us to come together as a nation, and for some true reflection. We must acknowledge how it was that an Australian could be responsible for such a horrific crime. We must all face up to the deeply uncomfortable truths about how racism and xenophobia have been exploited by the voices of hate, those who seek to divide us. And there is no escaping it, Mr President. Some of those voices reside here in this chamber.

Our parliament should be a place that shows Australia at its best—members of parliament elected by the people and entrusted with the powers to pass laws to make this country more equal, more generous, more prosperous and more welcoming. It should be a parliament where people from across the political spectrum seek common ground for the good of the nation and where we treat each other and all those around us with dignity and respect, always remembering that there is much more that unites us than divides us, always remembering the people who elected us to this place. That's the kind of parliament we should be building; that's the kind of parliament that the Australian community expect of us. Over the coming days, we'll talk about how we can go some way towards achieving that goal.

Now is not the time to deepen the divisions in our society. Now is the time for unity and for decent people to come together for a renewed recognition of our common humanity. We've seen so many examples of such leadership in New Zealand right now. From the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who has been a voice of compassion and a voice for peace, right through to all those members of the New Zealand community who have come together to throw a collective embrace across the victims so deeply affected. Here in Australia we must come together to support one another and to stand strong against racism, against hatred and against bigotry. We must be honest with ourselves and realise how much work we still need to do. We need to take some concrete steps to ensure that our parliament—indeed, our nation—is coming together against violence, against hatred and against bigotry and standing in solidarity with all those people right across the world who want a more peaceful and just society.

12:32 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak briefly on behalf of Centre Alliance in support of the motion. Having been born in New Zealand and mostly raised here in Australia, I am fortunate enough to have experienced the best of both countries. To the Muslim communities of New Zealand, of Australia and, indeed, worldwide, I want to emphasise how very shocked and sorry fair-minded Australians and New Zealanders are about this atrocity. It does not reflect who we are or what we are as a nation, and today's condolence motion acknowledges Australia's belief in this.

We, as a parliament and as a nation, must redouble our efforts to promote harmony and inclusiveness throughout all of our communities. We must shine a light on those who sow division and xenophobia for their own gain, political or otherwise. We must affirm that, as a pluralist and secular nation, Australia does not favour one race over another, one culture over another or one religion over another. How we respond to these horrific attacks will ultimately define us as a nation. Now is the time for us to reject extremism in all its forms and embrace unity, kindness and respect in the national interest. It starts with this motion before us today, and I commend it to the chamber.

12:33 pm

Photo of Cory BernardiCory Bernardi (SA, Australian Conservatives) Share this | | Hansard source

I seek to add my voice and the voice of the Australian Conservatives to this motion. The senseless and tragic events in Christchurch have taken a great deal from the national psyche and has caused us to reflect upon how anyone can rationalise or justify such abhorrent and sickening behaviour. The victims of this tragic event are not just resident in the mosque; they are resident throughout New Zealand and in Australia. My heart, my prayers and my thoughts go out to all of them, and I hope that the senselessness of this waste and this loss of life is not lost on any of us or any in our community.

12:34 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party, Minister for Regional Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I stand on behalf of the Nationals to support wholeheartedly the eloquent, heartfelt and honest words spoken by the leaders in the Senate—the representatives of the Australian people—here in the chamber today. Al-Salaam Alaikum.

To our friends, our families, our allies and our neighbours:

God of Nations at Thy feet,

In the bonds of love we meet,

Hear our voices, we entreat,

God defend our free land.

Guard Pacific's triple star

From the shafts of strife and war,

Make her praises heard afar,

God defend New Zealand.

The freedom of religion underpins both our nation and theirs. It is at the very heart of who we are and how such dynamic and multicultural communities like both Australia and New Zealand can also be so successful. I think that 50 people gunned down whilst praying peacefully, practising their faith in a free land, shocked and appalled us all. We stand with New Zealand against extremism, wherever it is found, as we have on foreign shores as allies and comrades for over a century.

Shaken: I think our united solidarity as communities has been a source of solace, both for Islamic communities and the wider populations of both our nations. That has bolstered us all; the strength of our united diversity has been one of the outcomes of this tragedy and I think it has been a source of solace. We have shared that around our shared values.

This has happened because of strong leaders—in the national Islamic community, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and local Islamic leaders. Even in regional cities of New Zealand, like Hamilton, they are bringing the community together with barbecues and open days at mosques et cetera. They are refusing to be moved in the face of this terrorist.

We mourn with you. We know that the spirit you have shown through this adversity will guide and strengthen you in the face of what can sometimes be seen as a pervasive and all-encompassing fear in this modern era. We stand against it. We stand united with our New Zealand Islamic and non-Islamic brothers and sisters, and we reject terrorism in all its forms.

12:37 pm

Photo of Marise PayneMarise Payne (NSW, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

May I acknowledge and thank all of the leaders who have spoken today for their words.

The events of 15 March shook New Zealand, shook Australia and shook the world. We were all horrified, devastated and appalled by what happened in Christchurch: an attack on innocent people in a place of worship. The attack on Christchurch was an attack on all of us. It was a despicable, right-wing extremist attack—horrifically, perpetrated by an Australian—that was designed to instil fear and hatred, and to incite fear and hatred. It was an attack that was designed to divide us. We will let it do neither.

Australia rejects everything this attacker stood for. His views are abhorrent to the fundamental values for which we stand in our nation. Religious freedom and tolerance are fundamental to open, multicultural and resilient societies, and Australia and New Zealand are two of the most outstanding examples of such societies in the world. Our differences are what make us stronger—our compassion, our understanding and acceptance of others is what enables us to flourish as individuals.

In the days since the attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, we've been somewhat heartened by the spontaneous acts of kindness across our nation. Australians of every faith and no faith from across the country came together in the aftermath of the attacks to remember those who lost their lives in this massacre and to show solidarity, including with our Muslim friends and neighbours. From those who have placed flowers in front of mosques to those who offered to stand guard where people worshipped and to those who've paid tribute and prayed across our nations the message is clear: tolerance will prevail. As the Prime Minister said at the Lakemba mosque in Sydney the day after the attack: 'What we say today is no. Peace and love will triumph.'

We live in not only a diverse and successful nation but the most diverse region in the world. Across South-East Asia we have Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, to name only a few, living in peace, overwhelmingly, side by side. We celebrate and cherish that diversity. It's part of what makes our region unique and special. In the wake of Christchurch, Australia renews its commitment to religious freedom and to the friendship and understanding that unites the people of our region. In practical terms, we continue to support our neighbours in New Zealand as they investigate the circumstances surrounding this atrocity. New Zealand has world-class police and medical forensic staff, and our teams are honoured to be working with them.

Our thoughts and our feelings turn often to and remain with the victims and their families and with the community of Christchurch, who continue to be deeply impacted by this senseless and horrific attack. It's our duty to ensure that we do everything within our powers to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. It is our responsibility as leaders and as parliamentarians to do everything in our power to ensure that.

Like many of you, I'm sure I will always remember where I was and what I was doing when the news of the attacks came to me. I'll never forget the overwhelming feeling of pure shock and horror. I'll never forget the tears that the pain caused to our neighbour and the pain caused to families, communities and followers of the Muslim faith in New Zealand, here and elsewhere. I've reached out to counterparts around the world whose country's citizens were also lost in this attack. I've conveyed our condolences and assured them that this person's actions do not represent the values for which Australia stands.

Now, more than ever, we must come together to encourage tolerance and respect between faiths and across our communities. There will always be those who seek to drive us apart, but our work is to ensure that their hate only strengthens our resilience, tolerance, compassion and cooperation at home and across our region.

12:43 pm

Photo of Mehreen FaruqiMehreen Faruqi (NSW, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

It is 18 days since the Christchurch massacre—18 days since the attacker took 50 lives; 18 days since he gunned down people in peaceful Friday prayers. It has been 18 long days for those who lost their loved ones that day. They face a lifetime without those who have been brutally taken away from them. This most shocking of crimes has reverberated around the world. Like so many others, I have cried many times since the news of the attack. We as a community have been shaken to the core. We are shattered and we are still grieving for the family and friends who lost their loved ones.

Too often the media coverage since the attack has shifted focus away from the victims and targets and their loved ones towards those who continue to foster hate. I would like to read the names of the 50 people who were murdered in Christchurch. Abdukadir Elmi, a 70-year-old father of four from Somalia, was killed at the Al Noor mosque. Abdul Fattah Qasem, 60 years old, was a respected elder in the Muslim community. He helped with interpretation for refugees and migrants from the Middle East. Also killed were Ahmed Abdel Ghani, 68 years old; Ali Elmadani, 66 years old; Amjad Hamid, 67 years old; Ansi Alibava, 24 years old; Ashraf Ali, 58 years old; Ashraf Al-Masri; and Ashraf Morsi, 54 years old, father of two. Asif Vora, 56 years old, was killed at the Al Noor mosque alongside his son, Ramiz. Atta Elayyan, 33 years, was the goalkeeper for New Zealand's futsal team. There were Mohammed Daoud Nabi, 71 years old; Farhaj Ahsan, 30 years old; and Ghulam Husain, 66 years old. Hafiz Musa Vali Patel, 59 years old, was critically injured in the attack and rushed to hospital, but he died later. Hamza Mustafa, just 16 years old, was shot as he prayed alongside his father. Also killed was Haroon Mehmood, 40 years old, father of two. Hosne Ahmed, 44, was in the women's area of the Al Noor mosque when the attacks started. Hussein al-Umari, 35 years old, died while challenging the gunman. There were also Hussein Moustafa, 70 years old; Junaid Kara/Ismail, 36 years old; and Kamel Darweesh, 39 years old. Karam Bibi, 63 years old, was killed with her husband, Ghulam Husain, and her son, Zeeshan Raza, at Linwood Islamic Centre. Khaled Mustafa, 44 years old, died in hospital after being shot at the Al Noor mosque. His teenage son, Hamza, was also killed. Linda Armstrong, 65 years old, had moved to Christchurch to be closer to her family. Maheboob Khokhar, 65 years old, was visiting New Zealand for the first time with his wife to see his son, who had left India in 2010. Others who died were Matiullah Safi, 55 years old; Mohammed Imran Khan, 47 years old; Omar Faruk, 36 years old, whose wife, Sanjida Zaman Heha, is in Bangladesh and is pregnant; Mohsen Mohammed Al Harbi, 63 years old; Mojammel Hoq, 30 years old; and Mounir Suleiman, 68 years old. Mucad Ibrahim was just three years old. This one just breaks my heart. The youngest victim of the attacker, he was visiting the mosque with his brother, Abdi, and their father, both of whom survived the attack. There were Lilik Abdul Hamid, 58 years old; Abdus Samad, 66 years old, a lecturer at Lincoln University, where he had studied for a PhD in the 1980s; Musa Nur Awale, 77 years old; and Naeem Rashid, 50 years old, originally from Abbottabad in Pakistan, whose eldest son, Talha, 21, was also killed in the attack. There were Osama Adnan Abu Kweik, 37 years old; Ozair Kadir, 25 years old; Ramiz Vora, 28 years old, who was killed with his father, Asif, in the Al Noor attack; Sayyad Milne, just 14 years old; Sohail Shahid, 40 years old; Syed Areeb Ahmed, 27 years old; and Syed Jahandad Ali, 34 years old. Talha Rashid, 21 years old, was the eldest son of Naeem Rashid, who was also killed in the attack. There were Tariq Omar, 24 years old; and Zakaria Bhuiya, 33 years old, who had taken the day off to celebrate his 33rd birthday at the mosque. There was Zeeshan Raza, 38 years old, the only son of Ghulam Husain and Karam Bibi, who were also killed in the attack. This whole family was massacred. Finally, there were Muhammad Haziq bin Mohd Tarmizi, just 17 years old, and Mohamad Moosi Mohamedhosen, 54 years old. We are still mourning and we are still grieving.

I also want to mention a survivor: Zaid Mustafa, a surviving son and brother. I cannot forget the image on our screens as he watched his father and his brother, the first of the victims to be buried. Grief and anguish were etched into his young face. He wept as he was wheeled into the funeral, and he cried that he didn't want to be left all alone in this world.

Naeem Rashid was filmed charging at the gunman in a bid to stop him. His 21-year-old son Talha was also killed. Naeem's wife, Amber, was trapped in a prayer room with about 30 other women and children as the attacker murdered their friends and families.

When 71-year-old Daoud Nabi opened the door of the mosque to the terrorist, he said, 'Hello, brother.' This is a very common way for Muslims to greet each other and to greet others. Imagine being the person who welcomed someone with these words, only to be shot and killed on the spot. These words and images will stay with us, perhaps forever.

Since the attack I have been to many vigils and I have been to many solidarity rallies. I have stood with my sisters and my brothers in the Muslim community. We have mourned for days, and I think we will continue to mourn for days longer. We have hugged each other a little tighter. We are grief stricken for our neighbours in New Zealand. We are also scared.

I do want to thank so many who have sent messages of love and support, and who have stood together in solidarity in these very difficult times over the last 18 days. This outpouring of support does mean a lot. Time does not heal all wounds. No days, months or years can ever hope to diminish the anguish and sorrow of Christchurch. No words can do justice to the pain of the survivors, the family and friends of the victims and our community. Right now, it feels as if no action could ever make right the wrongs that led to this point.

Many of the targets of this horrific terror in Christchurch were there after having fled war and persecution. Some were refugees. To pass through a lifetime of violence and persecution, flee your home and spend years building a new one in a new community only to lose your life to the violence of a hateful murderer is an incomprehensible tragedy.

But I do know that some people do not think of us Muslims as equal humans. In the midst of our grief, while we have been showered with love, we have also been bombarded with extraordinary hate and filth. If this does not reset the public debate; if this does not prompt a complete rethink of how we dehumanise Muslims in public debate then I really do not know what will.

Let us mourn and let us remember the targets of the Christchurch massacre. But let's also commit with absolute resolve to making sure such tragedy never happens again. The climate of hate and racism that led to this massacre cannot be allowed to go on. But this can only happen if everyone in here is genuinely reflecting on their responsibilities to foster love and to foster understanding for all, and acting purposefully for change.

12:54 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to add my support to this condolence motion. Before I start, I'd just like to thank Senator Faruqi for what was an incredibly heartfelt and tough speech to give in this place. If anybody in this room were to understand and know how shocking and horrifying the events on 15 March were, it would be Senator Faruqi. Senator Faruqi, of course, has had to live through this not just as a mother, not just as a member of the Muslim community, but as a leader in the Australian Muslim community. Thank you, Mehreen.

The horrors that we saw unfold in Christchurch sent a shockwave through New Zealand, Australia and the rest of the world. However, the most horrifying aspect was that some people weren't shocked at all. The conversations that I had with a number of members of the Muslim community in my home town of Adelaide in the days following the terrorist attack and the massacre were the most shocking of all. People were not surprised that something like this had eventually occurred. For so long, people have been asking us, as leaders and politicians, and members of the Australian media to take seriously the damage and the concern about the words used and the politics played over Muslim migration to this country. When you hear a 15-year-old or 16-year-old young woman or young man express that they're frightened because this could have happened in Adelaide, it should send the biggest shockwaves of all to us as leaders in this place.

This must be a moment of reckoning. As political leaders, whatever side of the fence we sit on, we must take more responsibility for how this issue is discussed and debated and what we can do to lead by example. We need to show compassion and unity and call out racism when we see it. The horror of what occurred in Christchurch, the horror of what occurred in those mosques that day—an attack on a group of people at their most vulnerable, at their most peaceful, at a time of intimacy between them and their god—is the most cowardly act of all.

The strength of leadership shown by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the face of the attacks has been extraordinary, and it's been wonderful to hear people on all sides pay respect and regard to that leadership today. For all of us it's an opportunity to take more of a leaf out of Prime Minister Ardern's book. It strikes me, as I sit here listening to the speeches, that words are easy and action is much harder. We must use this as a moment of reckoning, because something has to change. When I hear a 14-year-old or 15-year-old girl say that she's scared to catch the bus—she couldn't go into the city in the week following the attack because she didn't know what people would say to her on the bus while she was wearing a headscarf—I know that that's not the Australia I want to live in, not the Australia I want my daughter to grow up in and not the Australia that any young girl should have to grow up in.

As political leaders we must use this as a moment of change. We must call out racism when we see it. We must lead by example. We must be prepared to stand up and stand tall and show that compassion, empathy, unity and celebration of diversity are what make us a strong nation, standing side by side with our New Zealand brothers and sisters, our cousins, and hand in hand, Muslim and non-Muslim Australians and global citizens. That's the leadership that we need to show. I don't want any young kid growing up in this country feeling that they are less simply because of their religion, the religion of their parents or the country which they may have come from. Every child in this country deserves to grow up knowing that they are loved for who they are, not what they're not.

Some people in this place have sought to use what happened in New Zealand for their own political gain—nastiness, vulgar statements. While today is not the day to take action on that, the day will come, and those people must be confronted, called out and isolated, because they are not Australian. They don't represent the values of our nation or the Australia that any of us want our children to grow up in.

1:01 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

It's a humbling privilege to be able to stand here this afternoon to send my love, for my heart to go out, to everyone who is grieving from this hateful, awful attack; to send my love to the friends and the families of those who were so brutally murdered; to send my love to the survivors, who are suffering so much, having survived and their lives having been changed completely forever; to send my love to the wider New Zealand Muslim community, who will be feeling the attacks on the people of their faith in New Zealand; to send my love to the wider New Zealand community, because this was an attack on New Zealanders, on New Zealand soil; to send my love to Muslims in Australia, because Australia and New Zealand are family, and the Muslims in Australia that I have spoken to over the last 2½ weeks feel so deeply the attack on their brothers and sisters in New Zealand; and to send my love to everyone in Australia and New Zealand, because this was an attack on all of us. In fact, it was an attack on our shared humanity and it was an attack that was based in Islamophobia and racism.

What we must learn from this attack is that we must reject that Islamophobia and racism everywhere in society, including in our parliaments. If this is not the time to take stock and to realise what this attack was based on, I don't know what will be. Fear and division are being used as a weapon by right-wing extremists, by the media and even by some politicians, including some sitting in this very chamber, to separate our communities and to fuel the fires of racism and Islamophobia. That hate-filled violence will continue to cost innocent lives unless we can commit ourselves wholeheartedly, completely, to take the hard actions to make sure that it changes. Together we have to unite—unite against hatred, wherever it is, particularly in online forums and where it appears in our communities. We have to tackle extremism in all of its forms. We have to work together and reaffirm and recognise the strength in our diversity, recognise the contribution that people from different cultures, different faiths, different language groups and different countries have made to our society.

Australia is an incredible success as a multicultural society, and it brings incredible richness to our lives. Whether we are Australians from First Nations people whose ancestors have walked this land for more than 40,000 years or refugees who have walked amongst us for just a few weeks, we need to reaffirm our belief that everyone in Australia is loved, and that they are recognised and supported for who they are. This is our Australia, where people from all over the world have come together to build a peaceful society that celebrates and supports all people for who they are, where we have no tolerance of prejudice and discrimination, and where we build bridges. Where we see those flames of division, we build bridges rather than letting them fester and letting that fear and that division enflame and grow in our society.

I call upon all of us to do everything we can. I was so pleased, in the days and weeks following, to be able to visit mosques, to reach out and to support and to hug and to send my love to my Muslim brothers and sisters. We must all take on doing that. We must be building that completely, to be protecting our vibrant and diverse society and supporting those people, supporting minority groups, listening, taking hate threats seriously and redoubling our efforts to address them. So I'm standing here today, sending my love, standing with Muslim friends, the Muslim community here in Australia, in New Zealand, around the world, during this very difficult time, and I commit to working to ensure that our community is safe and welcoming for everyone.

1:06 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak as a Queenslander, and I think that's important given the extremely hurtful remarks that were made in the wake of this incident by some other representatives from my beautiful and warm-hearted state. And I rise to share, on behalf of so many Queenslanders, that we share your heartbreak and we are so desperately sorry for the events that took the lives too early of so many decent human beings. What I would like to put on the record today is my immense gratitude for the strength of Queenslanders who, in the days following this awful slaughter, really came together and embraced our Muslim brothers and sisters, embraced people from all types of religion and diversity and just stood together stronger as one.

I was really blessed to be at the Islamic College of Brisbane just 48 hours after this hideous murder. It was such a powerful and moving day, and the tears streamed down our faces as we heard from some of the leaders in the Islamic community—in fact, from leaders from all faiths—and I think the thing that struck me the most was the power of those words and the message of forgiveness. That was such a strong statement to make given the terrible consequences that had just been wreaked on this community. That message of love and forgiveness spoke so deeply to the strength and resilience of these warm and wonderful people, and so I wanted to thank not only the people of this community, who have drawn upon that strength and that grace and that power of forgiveness, but also I wanted to thank all of the Queenslanders who've come to rallies, to vigils, to prayer services, to any gathering where we have shown that everyone is welcome here in our community, that we are stronger together and that those minority voices of hate and division and fear and small-mindedness don't represent the majority of us.

I want to give this opportunity to the spokesperson for the Islamic Council of Queensland, Ali Kadri, to place some words on the record through me, his representative for Queensland. Ali says:

[The] Muslim community of QLD is overwhelmed by the support from our fellow Australians from all walks of life. The strength of our common bond has not been broken despite the actions of individual extremists and excuses from their sympathisers. However, this incident is not simply an act of terror by an individual, it is a result of years of demonisation of Muslims by shock jocks, some media commentators and some politicians. The brunt of this demonisation is faced by Australian Muslims in the form of an abusive comment and many times in the form of a physical attack. Muslim parents are afraid to send their kids to Islamic school and to mosques. Many wives are not sure if it's safe for their husbands to pray at a mosque and many husbands fear for the safety of their wives when they are shopping.

Ali goes on to say:

I would urge all politicians who have ever used politics of fear or harbour dislike of Muslims and Islam, to step into a shoe of those fathers, mothers, husbands and wives. If you still don't feel any empathy, at least stop and think how your words are radicalising people like the terrorist who has killed so many innocent people and destroyed so many families, including his own.

I just want to send a message of solidarity to Ali, to the Islamic Council of Queensland and to all Queenslanders that we stand with them. We are stronger together. You deserve to be safe. You are welcome. You are us. And we love you.

1:10 pm

Photo of Peter GeorgiouPeter Georgiou (WA, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to state on the record as a One Nation senator and Western Australian that I condemn the terror, pain and violence inflicted on Christchurch last month, which caused the loss of 50 lives and hurt so many more. I offer my condolences to all the families affected and to the people of Christchurch.

1:11 pm

Photo of Duncan SpenderDuncan Spender (NSW, Liberal Democratic Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'd like to note that the Liberal Democrats agree with what's been said this morning and we offer our condolences.

Photo of Tim StorerTim Storer (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to provide my wholehearted support of the many wonderful words that have been said today by all of the senators who have spoken. For some, it's been quite emotional—for us here in this chamber and for those listening. I've been a passionate advocate of multiculturalism in Australia, through not just my life here in Australia but also in our region and beyond.

I'm very much brought to also consider the sister city status of my home town, Adelaide, as a further indication to me and others in Adelaide of the fact that there is no 'other' when we consider what occurred in Christchurch. It is 'us', because we in Adelaide are a sister city and have exactly the same community within our multicultural state and have similar brothers and sisters, friends, long-term South Australians and new arrivals.

I wish, therefore, to send out—as has been done today already—messages of love and peace after this senseless act. This is an opportunity, as we have seen in the last weeks, for the power of love to transcend the senseless vicissitudes of hate. I have welcomed the opportunity to speak here today on behalf of myself but also of the many others in this chamber and the people I know that have been affected by this tragedy. Thank you.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

I ask honourable senators to join in a moment of silence to signify assent to the motion.

Question agreed to, honourable senators standing in their places.