Christchurch Mosques Attack


I support the motion. I cannot overestimate the significance of a motion such as this and why it is so important that we stand beside our sister city of Christchurch: for the people of that city, and indeed the whole of New Zealand, in the pain that they are currently suffering; for those who are currently tending to the wounds of those who have been injured; and for those families and loved ones of the 50 innocent men, women and children who were slaughtered in the events of last Friday. These are adults who will never again see their partners, they are people who will not see their children grow up and they are children who will not grow up, all as a result of being peacefully in prayer at a time when their only guilt was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As grotesque an act as this has been, in respect of the killing by one person, and as puzzling and as distressing as this is for us, it is important to remember the innocence of the victims to appreciate what has happened. It is important that we stand beside our colleagues and the people in Christchurch during this difficult time and wish those who are injured a full recovery. Some will live with the scars of this forever. We need to send a very clear sign to the civilised world on the matters that the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition have both acknowledged, that is, the importance of our countries having been built on a diversity which has given us strength and advancement.

This has been a callous act of murder—multiple murder. Whilst I look with some interest at the question about whether the offender in this case is charged with murder or other terrorist offences, the significance of this should not be underestimated. In my view, there has been murder. Certainly, there will be aspects of this case that identify questions about the mental competence of the person involved, the circumstances in which this has developed and his attempt to place it on social media and gain attention for himself. There will be questions about whether the police did or did not know about this. These are all the aspects that go with being confronted by a senseless murder and questions then being asked.

It is difficult to imagine, when we go through the sorrow stage to the blame stage, how we are going to get through this, but we are here with New Zealand to assist them and support them to do that. It is a country which, on the face of it, has not been plagued with the same level of terrorism that even Australia has faced in recent decades, and therefore we ought to be extending a hand both to the Prime Minister and the members of the opposition and their parliament, who will face the inevitable questions and considerations of gun laws. They themselves have had inquiries into these matters. Again, they will have to draw a line in the sand and carefully consider how they might deal with it.

When they do, I invite them to look to Australia and consider what we in Australia had to face post the Martin Bryant massacre at Port Arthur in Tasmania. I think most people, even if they were not around at the time, would know of this circumstance. It changed the face of Australia. It changed the face of our gun laws. I did not always agree with everything John Howard did, but I can tell you that I have repeatedly commended his bravery in going around the country and standing up in relation to gun laws that related to repeat weapons and saying, 'This must change.' There were riots in country regions, and there were great concerns about what was going to occur, but he did stand up to that. It can be done.

I say that to the Prime Minister of New Zealand: there can be change to accommodate this. We need to support them to do that.