Christchurch Mosques Attack

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (12:25): I rise today also to speak on this motion put forward by the Premier. As we all have pointed out in this place, Adelaide has a very special relationship with Christchurch as our sister city. Our two cities participate and collaborate in cultural, education, business and technical exchange.

I was fortunate enough a few years ago to visit New Zealand and to go to Christchurch and one of the things that stood out amongst the beauty of New Zealand was the people. Whilst New Zealand is a neighbouring country, we have that wonderful close kinship and my heart goes out to the people there as they deal with this tragedy.

My stepdad is from New Zealand, as are my stepsisters. My stepson is living there now and he also speaks very highly of the people. He is over there playing Aussie Rules football, of all things, and the people he is working with, engaging with and living with are absolutely wonderful. My wife and mother-in-law went to visit him a few weeks ago and when they returned I asked what they thought of New Zealand the first time they had been there. Without hesitation, they said, 'The scenery is beautiful. It's a lovely place and the people are just wonderful.' Again, our heart goes out to them.

A few here have mentioned the vigil that was held at the Islamic Society of South Australia on Sunday evening at Park Holme, at the mosque on Marion Road, and I was fortunate enough to attend. The mosque sits in the member for Morphett's electorate, just metres away from my electorate and a stone's throw from the member for Elder's electorate. It was great to be there with the Premier. The member for Davenport and the member for Unley were also there, as were a number of members from the other side of the chamber.

It was great to be a part of the vigil and to offer some condolence to the people whose hearts were really breaking. It was mentioned that someone who was in the audience—they were not mentioned by name—had three family members who were killed in the shootings in New Zealand and it really did just drive it home.

I would like to commend the people who put together the vigil because, as I said, it was a first step hopefully in the healing process, but, as the Premier so eloquently pointed out on the night, it was more an opportunity to take stock and to try to comprehend what had happened because I think at that time, and potentially even now, it is hard to take in.

Ahmed Zreika, who is President of the Islamic Society of South Australia, was wonderfully warm and welcoming. We know Houssam Abiad, the Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Adelaide, did a lot in organising this event. More than 2,000 people were there. They were literally spilling out onto the streets. It was quite phenomenal to witness. Charlie Shahin also spoke, as did Ms Dora Abbas, who is President of the Muslim Women's Association. Professor Mohamad Abdalla also spoke at the end. I will talk more of him in a few moments' time, but I thought he made some wonderfully pertinent points.

At the mosque, it was heartwarming to see the letters of support and the tributes on the walls outside, as well as the number of people who came to pay their respects. As I walked up Marion Road to the mosque, a variety of people were walking towards the mosque to be a part of this vigil to show their love and concern for a community that was clearly hurting. There were families with babies and the elderly, you name it—every person in society was covered and they were walking a long way to get there. It was wonderful to see.

A few people have mentioned this, but I will mention it as well: in my position as Minister for Police and Emergency Services, I would like to recognise the hard work of the police and emergency services personnel in Christchurch and throughout New Zealand during this time. There is an element of me that does not want to think about the scenes that these people would have confronted, but it is hard not to think about it. Through the tyranny of distance, we have the luxury of only imagining what they would have seen and what they would have had to deal with. If you take a moment to consider that, your hearts will go out to all those emergency services personnel who had to deal with what they were confronted with.

The Police Federation of Australia has also acknowledged the tireless work of first responders, the investigators, the armed response officers, the crime scene examiners, the police media officers and others who played a crucial part in establishing exactly how this terrible tragedy unfolded. I note that paragraph (e) of this motion condemns terrorism and extremism in all its forms. I concur with what others have said, that these actions clearly stem from hate.

This act and others like it stem from hate. As a society, and as members of this place, we need to keep working to end hate and to push love because we are all people living on this earth together. We might have differing opinions and differing views and this parliament, perhaps, is a great example of that. We can often disagree with people on the other side, but there is no hate.

Fundamentally, we all want to achieve the same outcome: to make a better state, to make a better environment for the people who live here. We might have differing views on how it should be done and we can debate and argue over those, and we can disagree vehemently, but there is not hate. There is no place for hate in this world; love is what we need to strive for. I strongly push for everyone in this place to have that in their mind as we go forward. I truly believe that everyone in this place is about promoting love.

I mentioned Professor Mohamad Abdalla, who made a couple of very poignant points at the end of the vigil that were very thorough and covered a lot of key points. Again, there was that theme of love. Professor Mohamad Abdalla raised the point that perhaps a lack of social interaction was at play with these extreme acts of terror that we have seen in society over a period of time. I want to leave this parliament with those points the professor made for us to think about—about how we can grow social interaction in our society and make sure that people are not in a position to be influenced by, in particular, online extremists who capture vulnerable people and impart on them a will to do what we saw in New Zealand recently.

It is something we can work towards collectively as a parliament because it is an area of policy we can help deliver and remove that isolation and bring people together. Professor Mohamad Abdalla probably made the point more poignantly than I did but I thought it was a really great takeaway from his endearing speech at the vigil.

In finishing—and I think it is clear—we say to the people of New Zealand that we know the actions of this individual do not represent New Zealand, and we know they do not represent Australia, despite an Australian being at the fore of what happened. It is important that we offer our support to our sister city at this devastating time. I stress again that we must remember that love will always triumph over hate.


Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login