Mr HAYES (Fowler—Chief Opposition Whip) (12:42): We stand in solidarity with our New Zealand cousins and offer our deepest condolences to the people of New Zealand for this abhorrent act of hatred and violence perpetrated against those of the Islamic faith in Christchurch last month.
To the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones: you don't bear your grief alone. We grieve with you, we mourn with you and we stand with you in these difficult and challenging times. We condemn the heinous act of terror—this premeditated act of extreme violence which was committed against a Muslim community of New Zealand and which resulted in the deaths of 50 innocent people and the serious injury of another 48.
I'd also like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous work of the New Zealand police as well as their paramedics. While others were understandably rushing to avoid the violence, they rushed in to confront the danger. Without their heroic efforts, the casualties would have been much higher.
For the terrorist to single out innocent people, peacefully practising their faith in a place of worship, speaks volumes about the evil and hate-filled motives that underpin this cowardly attack. This was an act rooted in extreme right-wing ideology, known for its racism, its bigotry and intolerance—none of which have a place in our society.
An attack on people of faith is an attack on all peoples of faith. In fact, it was an unmitigated attack on our collective humanity. This is why we must be united against such hatred, hatred which stands in stark contrast to our values and way of life.
While it is true that the Islamic community of New Zealand will, no doubt, bear the burden of this grief, we know that the pain is shared by Muslims across the globe and, particularly, here in Australia.
The hate-inspired acts of one Australian individual are not a reflection of mainstream Australia, nor are the actions of one rogue senator a reflection of our federal parliament. A senator who utilises his privileged position to divide and spur hatred in our community is not someone we want representing this nation or informing debate in this place. For a senator to blame the victims of this unspeakable act of violence rather than right-wing extremism is disgusting and has no place in this country.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Senator Fraser Anning has used his platform to spread fear and further his filthy right-wing agenda. It was only last year that this chamber was united in calling out Senator Anning for his offensive speech belittling the Australian people and inciting hatred towards Australian Muslims.
To those who mask racism as freedom of speech: clearly, it's you who have helped create this evil and allowed hate speech to breed. Freedom of speech does not and should not equate to a freedom to spread intolerance and division in our community.
To have witnessed the solidarity of the New Zealand community, under the strong and empathetic leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, gives me hope that extremism will not be tolerated in multicultural societies like New Zealand and Australia.
Over the last fortnight I think we've seen Australia at its best. We have seen people of all faiths coming together to say that this is not who we are or who we want to be. As a nation we must continue to cultivate the spirit of kindness and understanding, no matter our differences. After all, it is these values that make us the richly diverse nation that we are, the peace-loving nation that we are so proud to be.