MOTION OF CONDOLENCE FOR MH17 VICTIMS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, 26 AUGUST 2014
I rise to support the Prime Minister’s words on this most dreadful matter.
But what I also do, is rise as a father, as a son, as a brother, as a husband and as an Australian – I rise to offer my deepest personal sympathies to those who knew and loved the victims of this terrible, violent and unimaginable crime.
On the morning of the very last day our Parliament sat, we assembled amidst the sudden shock and grief of the incomprehensible tragedy of MH17.
In the weeks that have passed between then and now, so much has been said about the act of evil that shot from European skies an Asian airliner filled with citizens from around the world.
I on behalf of Labor look forward to continuing to work with the Prime Minister and the Government to ensure the strongest possible reaction from Australia. The seeking of justice, as the Prime Minister has indicated, cannot be shirked.
The weapons of death were sophisticated and couldn’t have been built automatically by the people who used them.
So let me be clear, I have the gravest reservations welcoming to Australia anyone in the future who is engaged in this act of terror - and we will support the strongest possible reaction from the Government on this matter.
We recognise that all involved have done remarkable work. I acknowledge the work of the Prime Minister and the foreign minister. I also might acknowledge the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff and his National Security Adviser who have kept the opposition in touch.
I thank representatives of DFAT, my colleagues, in particular, Tanya Plibersek, AFP, Military personnel, His Excellency, the Governor-General.
I would also like to acknowledge the great cooperation and leadership of the Netherlands, the Ukrainian Government, Malaysia.
I also wish to speak of, the Opposition’s support for Malaysian Airlines, who have been through an unimaginable year.
I think it is also appropriate to acknowledge the role of the United States, without whom, I believe much couldn’t have been possible.
The suggestion of a memorial is a very worthy idea.
Our Parliament stops all other business today, to offer its thoughts to all those who lost their lives on MH17.
This was a global tragedy that has struck at Australian hearts.
Australia did lose 38 of our own.
Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, partners and parents, friends, teammates, classmates, colleagues.
Wonderful people who loved – and were loved.
People who laughed and learned and made a life underneath our Southern Cross.
For the loved ones left behind – It is still a time of shock, a time of disbelief, a time of continual mourning.
We know their grief in this place, but we cannot share it.
We vow to repatriate their loved ones, but we cannot fill the void of their loss.
We can hope for an end to the quest for a reason, but it will not be enough.
Today, here in the house of the Australian people, for many who are listening, what matters most is not the ‘why’ or the ‘how’ - what matters is who we have lost – and what we will miss.
I have had the humbling privilege of meeting with many of the families touched by this tragedy.
Their courage, their resilience, their ability to endure public interest in their private grief was remarkable and moving.
Who of us can imagine, who of us here can contemplate - the sense of cruel coincidence and avoidable calamity– the unimaginable hell of alternative possibilities that will be haunting all those who have lost someone they loved so unexpectedly on this ill-fated flight.
I know and the Prime Minister knows, because I witnessed him talking to the families, that for the families and friends of all those aboard MH17, words mean little at this painful hour.
But they should know that Australia shares their sorrow.
I sincerely hope they can draw modest consolation from Australia’s affirmation.
From the knowledge that they do not walk alone in grief.
That we are with them.
Our nation’s great, invisible, generous, sustaining sympathy is with them - and it always will be.
Let all of us pause now to remember the names of those our country lost.
Let all of us remember their potential and their possibility.
Let all of us remember them not for how they died, but for why they lived – for the love and friendship and joy that we who are left behind vow to never again take for granted.
May they rest in eternal peace.
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