Standing Orders Suspension — Motion

HON SUE ELLERY (South Metropolitan — Leader of the House) [2.11 pm] — without notice: I move —

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as is necessary —

(1)  to enable me to move forthwith a motion in regard to the terrorist attack in New Zealand; and

(2)  to allow members to speak to the motion for a maximum of 10 minutes each.

Question put and passed with an absolute majority.


HON SUE ELLERY (South Metropolitan — Leader of the House) [2.11 pm] — without notice: I move —

That this house, on behalf of the people of Western Australia, expresses its deepest sympathy to the people of New Zealand and those affected by the abhorrent terrorist attack in Christchurch.

And further, that this house unequivocally condemns all acts of hatred and intolerance within our community.

[Speeches from various members]

HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [2.20 pm]: I rise to indicate my wholehearted support for this motion. I think it is very important that this Parliament acknowledges the tragedy that has befallen New Zealand, and indeed has affected so many people around the world. It is with a very heavy heart that I express my profound sorrow to New Zealand as a whole, but particularly to the Muslim community and to those people within Christchurch who were so directly affected by this heinous act.

New Zealand is our closest neighbour. New Zealand as a country still exists within the Australian Constitution, so it has a very particular place within the hearts of Australians. The fact that an Australian murderer–terrorist has wrought this tragedy upon that nation particularly affects all of us. The division and the hatred that has led to this is un-Australian. It is not what we stand for. It is not what a truly inclusive Australia is about. It is with deep distress that I reflect on the rise of Islamophobia, not just within Australia and New Zealand but indeed globally. The sentiment that has allowed Islamophobia has, in many ways, enabled this terrible tragedy.

I want members to remember that so many of the people who were murdered were children, including toddlers. They were people who sought a better life and a life of peace—one which was so very, very cruelly denied them. It has been extraordinarily heartening to watch the rise of everyday New Zealanders, and indeed everyday Australians, saying, “Enough. We don’t accept this. This is not a part of who we are. This is not anything that we identify with or would ever condone.” I can only hope that perhaps we may see a corner turned so that people start challenging when we see this hatred perpetuated.

I would like to read out quickly a comment that came from an amazing Muslim female friend of mine who posted online only a couple of hours ago these words —

In 22 years of being a Muslim in Australia, today is the first time I have been able to turn on the radio and hear journalists and politicians alike, passionately calling out the dehumanising rhetoric and hate speech that has dominated our public discourse for so long. A grand-scale tragedy has forced us as a society to become introspect.

50 years of manipulation by the media and political fear-mongering, paid for by the blood of 50 innocent martyrs.

Today, here in Australia, my motherland, I am now a human being. Last week, I was demonic, a terrorist, backward, extreme, oppressed, fair game, worthy of abuse and discrimination, and deserving of suspicion. Today, at the cost of 50 lives, I am a human being.

After all, there is hope.

We should take from those words from a member of the Muslim community that nothing good ever comes out of these sorts of tragedies, but we hope that there is at least some chance for us to be unified as a result.

[Speeches from various members]

Question put and passed.

The PRESIDENT: Members, I ask you to stand in your place for a moment’s silence out of respect for these people.

[Members stood and observed a minute’s silence.]


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