SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

SPEECH

17 March 2019

SPEECH TO VIGIL FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUE MASSACRES

MARION MOSQUE

PARK HOLME

*** check against delivery ***

(Acknowledgments omitted)

We gather here tonight in a time of great sorrow and a time of great sadness.

We gather to mourn the tragic and senseless murder of fifty people – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters – Attacked in their place of worship as they came together for Friday prayers, a sacred time.

We gather to show compassion and support to friends and families of those lost, and all those injured and recovering.

We gather in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and with the Muslim community, the Muslim peoples everywhere.

On Friday we saw horrific acts of violence.

They were acts of terrorism, and at their core, they were acts of hatred.

This terrorist was welcomed into the Mosque as a brother and he responded with hate, and with bullets.

He is an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist but most of all he does not represent Australian values.

He is not who we are.

So to the Muslim community here and across this nation, we know that you are experiencing great 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 these acts of extremist violence.

But most importantly we reject hatred in all its forms.

Together we stand for Australian values of 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 and this is the nation in which we have faith.

We have seen some shameful comments by a Senator, who I will not name, a shameful and pathetic attempt by a man who has never been elected, to get attention by exploiting our diversity as a fault line for political advantage.

This Senator does not speak for us. He does not speak for Australia and he does not represent Australian values but he does do one thing, he reminds us how important it is that we all stand together united against hatred.

Leaders – political, community, religious, all of us – stand united against hatred. Because we saw tragically in the loss of life on Friday where hatred leads us.

We here today know these truths. We know that a nation that is divided is never stronger.

We know that making others lesser, fanning prejudice and discrimination, has never made a nation safer.

We know that no group within our society is immune from the effects of hatred.

And 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 the aftermath of Friday’s attacks, the Imam Hasan Centre issued a statement and I believe the sentiments deserve reflection tonight.

“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.”

So now friends, this is the time to show those who seek to divide us just how far humanity can rise.

To the people of New Zealand, and in particular the New Zealand Islamic community, your Australian family grieves with you.

Like you we mourn the tragic and senseless loss of life.

We stand with you in this time of sorrow and sadness and we commit to stand against hatred in all its forms.

And by being here tonight it is an act by all of you, an act of faith, to demonstrate that we work together towards a society where all are welcome, where all may live in peace and security.

Because we here tonight know that respect and hope are greater than fear, and that love is greater than hate.

Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.