SPEECH: Statement on Indulgence: Recent Terrorist Attacks Around The World, Wednesday, 25 November 2015








I rise to speak on indulgence in response to the Prime Minister’s statement on the recent terrorist attacks around the world.

Overnight, we have heard again of yet more attacks – in Tunisia and in Egypt.

This year we have grieved, again and again, for the innocent victims of terrorist attacks.

People going to a concert in Paris. People marching for peace in Ankara. People attending a funeral in Bagdad, or buying bread in Beirut.


  • eating breakfast at a hotel in Mali,
  • or attending university in Kenya,
  • or playing volleyball in Pakistan,
  • or walking down the street in Jerusalem,
  • or leaving work in Parramatta. 

We mourn with those who saw their loved ones go out, on an ordinary day – to catch a bus. To pray, in church or synagogue or mosque. To go to school or work. To catch up with friends at a café or to see a show.

And who will never see them again.

Our deepest sympathies are with the wounded, and our greatest hope is for their recovery from injuries to body and mind.

It breaks our hearts that there are so many families shattered, so many lives lost, so many bodies broken.

It breaks our hearts but does not weaken our resolve.

We are resolved to do everything we can to protect our citizens and our values. The government and the opposition stand together in our commitment to the safety and security of the Australian people, and our commitment to combat terrorists at home, and abroad.

This resolve is a key reason for Australia’s military engagement in Iraq and Syria, our participation in the international mission against Daesh.

We have a responsibility, as good global citizens, to respond to the Iraqi Government’s request for assistance in the fight against Daesh. This year, Australia extended our mission to include air-strikes against targets located in Syria, also under the international legal principle of collective self-defence.

We thank the brave men and women of the Australian Defence Force for the professionalism with which they are carrying out their duties. They are a credit to their country.

Labor’s support for the campaign in Syria and Iraq is based on humanitarian considerations. 

The greatest number of victims of Daesh are those forced to live beneath their brutal rule.

The civil war in Syria has resulted in the gravest humanitarian crisis of our time. Well over 200,000 Syrians have been killed, half the population has been displaced, and the conflict has become a beacon and a breeding ground for extremists.

Syria is of course an exceedingly complex theatre, with a wide range of internal and external actors who have equally wide ranging agendas.

Over-night, with the downing of a Russian plane by Turkish forces, we have seen how this complexity can have tragic and unanticipated consequences.

It is our hope that Turkey and Russia exercise restraint, and that this incident is not allowed to jeopardise the goal of a lasting and durable peace in Syria. We must all redouble our efforts to make that the case.

For as the Prime Minister said yesterday and Labor has consistently argued, “ultimately a political solution is needed in Syria. Only this would allow attention to turn more fully to eliminating ISIL as a military force.”

We have consistently called for a clear strategy for Syria and Iraq—a plan to defeat Daesh and a plan for the day after.

This strategy needs to include a strong and coordinated military response to prevent Daesh from perpetrating its crimes. It also needs to include a political solution in both Syria and Iraq that guarantees the rights of all religious and ethnic communities, and we also require a humanitarian response to prevent a generation of children growing up without an education, without adequate health care, without even a country to call their own.

And while there are a range of views on the correct plan to defeat Daesh on the battlefield, we agree with most in the international coalition that large scale deployment of Western troops is not the correct strategy.

As Hilary Clinton said recently, “If we’ve learned anything from 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s that local people and nations have to secure their own communities. We can help them, and we should, but we cannot substitute for them. But we can and should support local and regional ground forces in carrying out this mission.”

I would add that we have to have a clear objective for this assistance – a plan for now, and a plan for when we leave.

As the terrorist attacks this week, this month, this year, have so painfully shown, we must also combat the threat of terrorist attacks within our borders.

French authorities have acted swiftly and strongly against those involved in carrying out the recent attack in Paris, and who were quite possibly planning further attacks.

In Australia, our intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies are at the front-line in foiling and disrupting threats to Australians. We have some of the best security and intelligence agencies in the world, and we will continue to give them all our support as they carry out this difficult and necessary task.

We know for certain that our people have stopped attacks on Australians in Australia that would have killed our citizens.

We all know – how can we not know – that it’s possible an attack will not be prevented. It has happened in Australia, at the Lindt Café siege, in attacks on police officers and police employees in Melbourne and Sydney. None of us can be complacent.

But we can all be certain that while terrorist acts may exact a terrible toll, terrorism will not prevail.

Because we have seen that every act of terror prompts a thousand acts of courage.

We saw Adel Termos in Beirut, letting go of the hand of his six year old daughter to throw his arms around a suicide bomber, saving dozens of lives as he lost his own.

We saw Michel Catalano, telling his young employee to hide as the fugitive Charlie Hebdo gunmen came into his business. He faced the danger alone.

And Stephane Sarrade, whose 23 year old son Hugo was killed in the Bataclan Theatre, saying that “I would like to give hope to the next generation. The rest of my life, that will be my work".

Antoine Leiris, whose wife and the mother of his infant son was also murdered in that theatre, wrote an open letter to the terrorists. He said:

“I will not give you the satisfaction of hating you. … You would like me to be scared, for me to look at my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, for me to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You have lost.  Us two, my son and I, we will be stronger than every army in the world.  …all his life this little boy will be happy and free.  Because you will never have his hatred either."

Great acts of courage – and many smaller ones, no less important.

The students and teachers in Kenya who go to school and to university, every day, despite the threats, despite attacks, despite the fear they must surely feel.

Voices raised in the Marseilles as people were evacuated from the Stade de France.

Hundreds of people stranded in Paris after the attacks, given shelter in the homes of strangers who opened their doors, cooked meals, prepared beds.

As people around the world said, Je Suis Paris, the people in Paris said Je suis en terrasse – I am on the café terrace – as they refused to surrender the everyday pleasures of life.

Those who wanted the world to think of fear when they heard the name of Paris have failed. We will remember instead solidarity and defiance.

Those who wanted the world to think of grief when they heard the name of Beirut have failed. We remember instead courage.

When we remember Ankara, we remember that those who were killed were marching for peace.

When we remember Garissa, we remember that those killed were striving for an education, for learning. The thing that the terrorists fear most.

And every day, in Paris or Sydney, Beirut or Mumbai, we will be in the cafes and the restaurants, at the markets, in our places of worship, at work, at our train-stations, our schools and our offices.

And that is why terrorism will never win.

Because the human spirit is unconquerable.

Violence in the service of ideology can never defeat courage in the name of our common humanity.