SUNDAY, 22 JANUARY 2017
SUBJECT/S: Bourke Street tragedy
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning everybody. I have lived in Melbourne my whole life, on and off. I have come to Bourke Street Mall and visited this part of the city more times than I can remember. That makes me no different to any other person in Melbourne.
On Friday, Melbourne was struck by an act of pure evil. There is no satisfactory explanation, no set of circumstances which can condone this act of evil. What is the world coming to? Today I have come here, like thousands of other citizens of Melbourne to show our support for the victims and their families and the community of Melbourne. There can be no satisfactory explanation for this act of evil. As a parent whose teenage children come into the city, as someone who has shopped here at Christmas myself, I'm sure that I speak for every Melbournian, we cannot understand and we are shocked at the violation of one of the icons of Melbourne.
There's Flinders Street, there’s the MCG and of course there is the Bourke Street Mall. I feel most for the families; how on Earth their peace and order and stability and security could be violated by this evil murderous hoon cannot be explained.
What I also feel about Melbourne though is a sense of pride that in the seconds after this evil murderer was wreaking havoc, so many Melbourne people rushed to the assistance of those who had been struck and those who were injured.
And today, I couldn't be more proud of being a citizen of Melbourne when I see literally thousands of memorials, flowers and little teddy bears being laid out in support for these people who did nothing wrong except be in the wrong place at the wrong time and their path crossed the path of evil.
I absolutely couldn't be prouder of Melbourne to see so many people from Melbourne out and about. There is no good explanation for this act of evil. But what I do see all around me are Melbourne people grieving, Melbourne people mourning and Melbourne people getting on with life and showing that nothing stops their spirit. It should never come to this where we see the finest features of the people of Melbourne but we did on Friday and we've seen it ever since.
But first and foremost I wish to express on behalf of my family and the Labor Party, our condolences and our sympathies for the victims, for the injured and their families. It's unimaginable that the Bourke Street Mall and Swanston Street, Melbourne icons, would be subjected to this evil. But we've seen it, it does make you wonder what the world is coming to, but what is pleasing, if there can be any silver lining in this murderous tragedy is seeing so many other fellow Melbournians and Australians standing up. And I know I speak for all the Australians who can't be here today, every Australian is feeling the pain of those here in Melbourne and every Australian wishes they could express their sympathy directly.
Happy to take a couple of questions on this matter if there are any.
JOURNALIST: Do you agree that Victoria's bail laws need to be toughened in the wake of this?
SHORTEN: I've got no doubt that there are many questions to answer, be it bail laws, the role of family violence and how we've got to stop this ever getting to this situation. But today I've got to say when you come in to the middle of the city - I've turned 50 this year, I've lived in Melbourne on and off my whole life. I've been coming to Swanston Street and the Bourke Street Mall even from before they were malls. The building here, the GPO, or was the GPO, now is the heart of Melbourne, whenever you measure distance in Melbourne it's measured to this building, the GPO. This is literally at the very centre of Melbourne, today for me it's not so much about who didn't do what, when. Although I've been stopped in the street ever since Friday by people who are just upset and say 'what has the world coming to?'. Today for me it's about grieving, it's about mourning, it's about hugging your own children, it's about shaking your head at the random unfairness that some people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time in front of the path of someone who has done something truly inexplicably evil. We use this word 'evil' perhaps in the media or in movies a lot, what we have seen on Friday in my opinion is the true demonstration of something truly evil and unfair.