Bill's Speeches

SPEECH - STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE – MANCHESTER ARENA EXPLOSION - CANBERRA - TUESDAY, 23 MAY 2017

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Thank you, Mr Speaker. 

I rise to support the words of the Prime Minister. 

We use words as our tool of trade in this parliament. 

But sometimes, and at some moments, you realise that words are inadequate to cover the grief, to explain what has happened. 

I'm thinking of parents and siblings and family members in Manchester, it's the very early hours of the morning there, nine hours behind us.  

How do words help explain the inexplicable? 

Yet, right now, words is all we have to offer. 

The people of Britain should know that we feel their pain and we share their shock and anger.  

I've spoken to the British High Commissioner, I've offered her the condolences of my party, and I acknowledge the welcome presence of the Deputy High Commissioner. 

We've been informed, as the Prime Minister says, that this is being treated as a terrorist incident, but there is much more to find out. 

We condemn this crime if that's what it is, and it appears to be. 

We condemn this crime without hesitation, and the people of Manchester should know that we're fully aware of their grit, their northern determination. 

It is heartening to hear the stories even now seeping out, that instead of locking doors and closing-up, the people of Manchester are helping those who are to be evacuated, responding in a way we hope we would if we were in the same dreadful circumstances. 

I think, though, that as a parent, it is to the parents that I wish to briefly speak. 

What makes this different to a casualty on a battlefield is that you think when your kids go to listen to music, they would be safe. 

My eldest two are teenagers, they go to concerts, like so many here and so many elsewhere. 

When you see that shaky iPhone footage on that relentless 24-hour coverage, you see so many young people. They're dressed to go out to a concert, to dance, to listen to music. 

I can only begin to imagine the pain of parents wondering where their kids are when the first reports come out and the first texts and they realise that their family, their kids are at this concert. 

And I can only begin to dimly imagine the parents whose calls are being unanswered and the messages going through to voicemail. 

And then I also think today, how do I explain this to my own kids? How do we make sense of this to our own children? 

I will say that it would appear that this has been done by evil people. 

I will say that we do everything we can in this country to make you safe. 

And I will say to them - of course you can still keep going to concerts. 

But there are deeper answers, of course, for us to find in coming days and weeks. 

Again, though, I would say this - in this place, periodically, when we see this footage, we think 'not again': 

- The French theatre, the Bataclan theatre, 

- The stadium in Paris.

- The scenes outside of Westminster. 

And all of us here think 'not again'. 

But what I also think we need to say to people is that the world should not get used to this. 

That we should not accept this as the normal state of affairs. 

That we should never believe that this sort of crime can't be stopped and that we need to change. 

This is not the normal course of events. 

The world, and absolutely most of us, are far better than that. 

So today, I offer my prayers and support to the people going through this and a promise to lots of kids wondering about all of this - that this is not the normal course of events and we will never accept it as the normal state of affairs.

ENDS 


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