SRI LANKA TERRORIST ATTACKS

Mr PEARSON (Essendon) – At the outset and in joining the Premier’s condolence motion I do want to say that I am deeply saddened by the events in Sri Lanka. I ask myself the question: how many more times as a Parliament will we have to come together to pause and reflect? Is this the last time in the 59th Parliament or will we have to do this again? How many more times will we have to come together? When we come together in this place under these circumstances we see the best of the Parliament in the very worst of circumstances, but I ask myself the question: is this the best we can do? Is this enough? It is interesting that as a society we had Australian settlement and at its core and its foundation was the White Australia policy. That was a policy that guided our nation for its first 44 years. But what we have seen since the late 1940s is a complete transformation of our society, of our community. I am not suggesting that we are perfect, but we have embraced so many different communities, so many different faiths, so many different religions over such a short and concentrated period of time. We are, I would say, an outlier, a world leader in tolerance and respect. Now I do not know the answer to the question about how we stop these events occurring far from our shores or on our doorstep or here, but I think that collectively we have got the ability to think about what we have done here in Melbourne, in Victoria and in Australia. It is a really special quality, and it is something I think that the world could benefit much from. Clearly in relation to what happened on Easter Sunday that is of cold comfort; for the people of Sri Lanka, it probably does not count for a lot. I just wonder and I hope: can we as the institution of the Parliament and as a government do more? Can we lead the nation? Can we lead the world to make sure that we are a beacon of light and of hope so these tragedies occur no more?