Statement on Indulgence - Terror attacks around the world

November 23, 2015

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I seek the indulgence of the House to make a statement on the recent terrorist attacks around the world.

And I acknowledge the presence in the House of the Ambassador of France, His Excellency               Mr Christophe Lecourtier.

Late on the afternoon of Friday, 13 November, Paris, the city of light, was assaulted by godless ISIL murderers who blasphemously claimed to be killing in the name God, who claimed to be killing in the name of Islam, but defame and blasphemed Islam itself.

One hundred and thirty citizens of France and eighteen other countries were brutally murdered. Many more were injured, including a young Tasmanian, Emma Parkinson – a brave young woman with whom I spoke as she recovered from her surgery.

This was a coordinated attack involving eight killers and six locations. It was more than a lone wolf attack, but it was not an elaborately sophisticated one. It reminds us that a few fanatics with automatic weapons and explosives can do great damage and strike at the heart of free, open and democratic societies. This was not just an assault on French lives and French freedoms. It was an attack on all humanity, on all our freedoms, freedom to gather and to celebrate, the freedom to share time with our family and friends, the freedom to walk our streets without fear. 

Mr Speaker that is why, when I spoke with both President Francoise Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, I conveyed not just the heartfelt sympathy but the unwavering solidarity of all Australian people with the people of France. We are, though, Mr Speaker, forever reminded that terrorism is not only a problem for the West. Recently we have witnessed terrorist attacks in the form of suicide bombings in Beirut, Ankara, Tunisia and Nigeria. The murder of hundreds of innocent civilians in a Russian airliner flying over the Sinai, the attack of a hotel in Bamako, Mali, and ongoing extremist violence and killings of course in the Middle East and South Asia.

I have discussed recent developments with world leaders and all are united in our condemnation of this terrorism. We are united in our steadfast commitment to defeating those who carry out these terrorist acts. The leaders of the Muslim nations with whom I have met in the last week, President Widodo, the leader of the world's largest Muslim nation, Indonesia, President Erdogan of Turkey, Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia, have all said loudly that ISIL's deeds and ideology defame and blaspheme Islam and are utterly contrary to the precepts of authentic Islam. President Widodo reminded us this week past that his own country demonstrates that Islam, democracy, diversity and tolerance are completely compatible.

President Erdogan of Turkey explained at the G20 that ISIL does not speak in the name of Islam. It is an abomination to religion, he says, and must be utterly rejected.

Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia reminded us at the East Asia Summit that Islam teaches that to kill one innocent life is as though to kill all humanity. 

Mr Speaker, the Paris attacks – all of these attacks – highlight just how critical it is that the international community cooperates to defeat ISIL in the field, in its base, in Syria and Iraq. 

They highlight how important it is for us more effectively to counter the messaging, the corrupting messaging of ISIL and other violent extremists in schools, mosques and above all online. This will not be an easy fight, nor will it be quick. But our mission to disrupt, degrade and destroy the terrorists is making progress.

A lasting defeat of ISIL will require a political settle settlement in Syria and Iraq. There are some signs of progress in that regard, but it is very early days. It will also require military force and Australia is second only to the United States in our military contribution to the international efforts in Iraq and Syria. 

I can reassure the Australian people that we will do everything we can to keep Australians safe, at home, and so far as we can, abroad. There is no greater responsibility for any government, and my Government, than Australia's security. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are the finest in the world.

Mr Speaker, the leadership of Muslims around the world in condemning ISIL is another key factor, and I want to commend the Muslim leaders – Presidents of great nation and Presidents of community associations alike - who have spoken out for an authentic, moderate and tolerant Islam. Extremism is a challenge all Australians must address. Extremists aim to sow discord by driving a wedge between Muslims a non-Muslim, dividing us as a society.

We are the most successful and harmonious multicultural society in the world. The richness of our diversity is one of our nation's greatest strengths and we must protect and defend it dearly. The terrorists want us to bend to their will, to be frightened, to change the way we go about our lives to abandon our values.

If we do that, they win and they will not win, we will not let them win. When the French people left the Stade de France complex after that shocking attack, they were not cowed. They sang ‘La Marseillaise’ proudly in one voice and that is how all free people should respond to these assaults.

Mr Speaker, to all whose lives have been touched by these evil acts of terrorism, the Australian people send their heartfelt sympathy and unwavering support.

M. L’Ambassadeur, vous avez nos plus sinceres condoleances et notre plus forte solidarite. 

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