Tuesday 11 August 2020
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Australian PM - 1 month ago

Statement On Indulgence - Melbourne attacks

Mr Morrison: (Cook—Prime Minister) (14:02): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your indulgence. On Friday, 9 November, a lone Islamic extremist launched a terrorist attack in Melbourne. The terrorist thought his actions would divide us and frighten us. Instead, he met the will and resolve of Melbourne and Melburnians: two brave police officers who stepped up and confronted the ter bystanders who refused to be first responders who put themselves in harm s and every part of government, state, federal and local, standing as one. In a moment, a great city understood a simple truth: we are stronger together because we have each other. That strength is needed to deal with the grief, and we grieve for who and what was attacked on that day. We grieve for Sisto Malaspina, known to many in this place, a man who in so many ways embodies everything marvellous and wonderful about this great c a man who came to this country as a young man and brought with him his Italian joy and an unquenchable openness of heart. We think of his family and we grieve with his family. Our thoughts go to those injured and those who are struggling with the violence they encountered on what should have been any other lovely day in Melbourne. That day, everyone was tested and no-one was found wanting, particularly the two police officers, who thought they were going to attend a traffic incident. Having met with both of them and their families, their families have every right to feel very proud of those two police officers, as we do today—one very early in their service and one very experienced in their service. As the son of a policeman, I could only look into the eyes of his children and see that same pride in their eyes for their dad. They should always feel incredibly proud—as should all children of police officers around the country feel proud of the great service police officers provide to our country, in our cities and our rural and regional areas. We can be proud of everyone acting as one on that day, the unflinching resolve of 25 million people. Sadly, we know enough about our modern world to know that we will be tested again. Last Tuesday, the Victorian Joint Counter Terrorism Team arrested and charged three men for undertaking preparations for a terrorist attack. I applaud the Victorian Joint Counter Terrorism Team for thwarting their heinous plan. ASIO has no information to indicate any further related threat following from this incident. Our overall threat level remains unchanged at probable . This means, sadly, that there are groups and individuals with both the intent and the capability to conduct a terrorist attack on our soil, so we must remain vigilant. Since September 2014, our law enforcement and security agencies have undertaken 15 successful counterterrorism disruption operations in response to potential attack planning here in Australia, and they should be commended for doing so and thwarting those attacks. Ninety-three people have been charged during 41 counterterrorism operations. The Commonwealth is working closely with the states and territories to combat these threats. Though we will do everything—everything—to keep Australians safe, we must accept that being part of a free society means that what is targeted is our very freedom. The government has responded to the emerging threat. Since 2014 we have invested an additional $2.2 billion in keeping Australians safe and have passed 12 tranches, with the support of this House and the other place, of counterterrorism legislation. We are a free people from many nations and many faiths. In this House I want to thank and acknowledge the many brave and passionate Australians in our Muslim community for their leadership and their courage in speaking out against the things which would seek to corrupt their very religion and put their own families and their own communities at risk. These are brave Australians who deserve our support, and they have mine. Last week, I met with leaders from our Muslim community, and I m committed to working with all in the community, in partnership with them, to tackle violent Islamic extremism. These have been testing days but days of strength as well. Last week, Melbourne and Victoria grieved at Sisto Malaspina s state funeral. I was pleased that Jenny was able to attend on that day, representing me, along with Assistant Minister Steve Irons. The Leader of the Opposition was also there, as many were. In cabinet that day we paused for a moment s silence during the funeral, and at the Ethnic Business Awards we also paused to celebrate an incredible life lived. As I ve reflected on the events of recent weeks I ve been reminded about a small thing, which I remarked on at the Ethnic Business Awards the other night, that Sisto said when he was interviewed a few years ago. As those of Italian heritage will verify, if coffee has a spiritual home, it is in Italy. In Italy they follow a bible when it comes to drinking coffee. Italians usually don t drink cappuccinos after midday, I m told, and it is unthinkable to have one after dinner. But in Australia Sisto didn t follow those rules. He d say, People should drink their coffees how they like it; the way they like it, when they like it. It might sound like a small thing, but that respect for others—the tolerance and the acceptance of difference—is the foundation of modern Australia, the most successful immigrant country in the entire world. It is something we should be very proud of. Sisto got it. He lived it. He displayed it. He demonstrated it. Though his life was taken from him in that terrible terrorist act, he overwhelmed it and conquered it through the life that he lived and the freedoms that he enjoyed. It is a sad day, as we pause and reflect here again today, but it is a day when we can think about his great achievements as a migrant who came to this country and fulfilled every moment of freedom he had to make Australia a better place. We thank him and we thank all of those who stood as one on that day.

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