2 May 2019

Attacks in Sri Lanka and California

[6.07 p.m.]

Mrs Petrusma (Franklin – Minister for Disability Services and Community Development) – Madam Speaker, like all members of this House, I was shocked and horrified by the events that unfolded in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday and in an American Synagogue last week.  I place on record my deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers to those in Sri Lanka and in California who have lost loved ones, family, friends, colleagues and fellow worshippers in these senseless attacks on worshippers who were in church on one of Christianity’s holiest of days, in a synagogue, peacefully participating in religious observance or simply tourists in a hotel going about their daily lives.

To think there are now over 250 innocent people no longer with us and more than 450 people horrifically injured because of such horrible atrocities is so very hard for us all to understand.  I give my support, prayers, thoughts and condolences to the Tasmanian, Australian, Sri Lankan and American Christian and Jewish communities as well as the wider Tasmanian community as we all come to terms with this tragedy, this profound loss of life, injury and suffering.

Tasmanians all too well understand how difficult it is for the people of Sri Lanka and California at this time.  We know and have learned there is absolutely no place in our community for the hatred and intolerance that has bred these barbaric acts of terrorism and mass murder.  We must never accept violence as normal or allow people with extremist ideals to make us feel hatred toward one another.  In the wake of these senseless deliberate attacks as well as the recent terror attack in Christchurch, we condemn in the strongest possible terms these atrocities and we are united in our respect for religious diversity and the right to live our lives free from hatred and fear.

As the Multicultural Council of Tasmania stated on Monday, Failure to recognise that violence against another human being is an attack on life itself represents our failure to identify with each living human being on the planet, irrespective of religion or race.

These are not just attacks on religion, they are attacks against you, me and every person who shares planet Earth.  We are in this together.  We all have a role to play and cannot extricate ourselves from these tragic events.  Failure to do so is a failure to engage and empower every living person against the mantra of hate and violence.

As minister responsible for multicultural affairs and as a proud Tasmanian, I passionately support the principles of religious diversity and multiculturalism for the tremendous good it brings to the world and to Tasmania.  This wonderful diversity contributes to Tasmania’s success as a multicultural community and enhances every aspect of Tasmanians’ day-to-day lives.  Every day, Tasmanians benefit from the skills, knowledge, experiences, innovation, job creation and personal contributions of our culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse Tasmanians.

I also acknowledge recent gatherings for peace where community members and religious leaders around Tasmania and Australia have gathered to promote love, compassion, harmony and unity.  These messages show us all how valuable, sacred and precious life is and empowers us to believe that we can and will overcome even the most difficult of circumstances.

It is in all of our interests to build a Tasmania that is harmonious, inclusive and a respectful place to live, where people from every corner of the world and every religion can belong, contribute, achieve, worship in peace and succeed together.  Tasmania is a much richer place to live, work, study and raise children because of the diversity of its people today.  The Tasmanian Government therefore passionately wants to support, strengthen and continue our island’s multicultural success and to enable a Tasmania that is a very welcoming, inclusive, respectful and harmonious place to live for people of all religious faiths.

My condolences once again to the family and friends of those who have lost their lives or are injured.

The House adjourned at 6.11 p.m.