Motion on the Lindt Cafe Attack

16th February 2015  |  Comments  |  Speeches

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Minister for Communications) (19:18): The siege in the Lindt cafe was an extraordinary moment in time for the city of Sydney. It affected everybody in that city—my city—and all Australians. We see tragedies and sieges in the news all the time of course, but this was occurring in such a familiar place, right in the heart of our city, right in Martin Place and in a cafe—the most normal, innocuous, natural place. Anyone could imagine themselves having been there themselves. This was not in a far off location; this was right in the heart of our city. So it shocked the city.

Yet on the night of the 15th, the first day of the siege, I think most of us went to bed praying but also hoping that the siege would be resolved peacefully, as most sieges are. There was a sense of anxious optimism. Then of course we woke up to the news that the gunman had shot one of the hostages, Tori Johnson, the manager—a really wonderful young man, a very brave young man—and in the firefight that followed the terrorist was killed and tragically Katrina Dawson was killed. Katrina Dawson was also a young person, one of the most brilliant young barristers at the Sydney bar and a mother of three. The loss and tragedy for her family is indescribable.

That morning was a real shock for the city. It was stunning. I remember so vividly catching the train from Edgecliff to North Sydney. On the two trains I was on—I changed trains at town hall—there was an extraordinary mood that was so palpable you could almost reach out and touch it. People were not talking to each other; they were deep inside their own hearts. They were thinking. You could read their minds. They were filled with a determined love. There was no hatred there. There was no anger there, remarkably. You could just feel the compassion. It was as though the city had decided that it had been confronted with the most crazy, vicious, death-loving hatred and had decided to respond with love—not a wishy-washy love but a love that was determined, that was strong and saying: 'We will not bow to your hatred. We are better than you. Our values are better than you. Our love is stronger than your hate.' That is what I felt in that train.

A little later in the day there was a mass at St Mary's Cathedral that I attended. Again you could feel that there. You could feel the love of Christ in that cathedral in a way that, regrettably, you do not always feel in church. It was full of love. So much hatred had caused so much harm and death in Martin Place, but there in the rest of the city it was filled with love. Then you saw in Martin Place people coming, laying their flowers, showing their strength, showing their solidarity and showing that love is always stronger than hate.

I have never been so proud to be an Australian and I have never been so proud to be a Sydneysider. It would have been so easy for people just to dissolve in a sea of hatred and antagonism. We run ourselves down a bit—we are always knocking ourselves, Australians. We are a great country and we are a really good people, and we showed our goodness in the wake of that siege. We showed that love is stronger than hatred. We showed that we are not going to play to the tune of the terrorist because—what does the terrorist want to do? What is the terrorist's objective?

The terrorist's objective is to create a frightening sensation and, as the member for La Trobe said, 'To scare people out of their ordinary lives.' The whole city and the whole nation said: 'No, life goes on. Yes, we will be vigilant. Yes, we will take care, of course.' And we will do everything we can, as our government does, as the Prime Minister has said, to ensure that our security and police services have the resources to prevent incidents like this wherever they can be prevented. But above all our strongest armour is not with the police. Our strongest armour is in our heart. It is that strength of that determined love that is the greatest challenge to the hatred of the death loving terrorism that has caused the appalling siege in Martin Place.

So this is a terrible tragedy and the House extend its condolences on behalf of the whole nation to the families of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, and we extend our love to all of the people that have been affected by this—all those hostages. Who could imagine a more terrifying time than being bailed up in that cafe with the gunman, not knowing whether you are about to be blown up or shot, not knowing how a resolution could come. In passing on our condolences, we also affirm our solidarity. It is wonderful that there is such bipartisan solidarity on this.

We disagree so often in this place—and we are, after all, paid to disagree, and it would be a pretty poor democracy if we all had the same view. But on this I know that every member of this House, every member of the Senate and every Australian is absolutely united in that determined love—love that triumphs over hate—and a determination not to be cowed, not to be bullied and not to be led into an orgy of retaliation and hatred. That is only playing into the hands of the terrorists, because that is what they want us to do. They want to frighten us and they want to drive us into a reactive hatred. They want us to be like them. They want us to be as hate filled as them. We defy them with love. We defy them with a determined love.

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