Condolences – Sri Lanka Terrorist Attacks

With a heavy heart I rise today to support the Premier’s condolence motion on the horrific terror attacks on Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. I express my sincerest condolences to the people of Sri Lanka, both here and there, as they grieve the loss of loved ones, family, friends and community leaders.

On Easter Sunday I followed in the footsteps of many Christians globally as I walked into  my local church to reflect and pray. I sat in church feeling safe, surrounded by my local community, and once the service was over I walked out in peace and went home to celebrate with Rebecca, the kids and good friends. For Sri Lankan Christians the day should have been as typical as mine, but that normality was taken from them. What should have been a day of peaceful reflection and celebration turned into a violent nightmare. Easter Sunday is a day of renewal and hope, but for Sri Lanka Easter will also now be remembered as a time of mourning and sadness.

As I stand here the number of lost lives is over 250, the wounded even more, but we cannot even begin to count or comprehend the many thousands who have had their lives torn apart by this atrocity. As Sri Lanka still counts the toll and starts to come to terms with the wreckage ensuing from these acts of horror and hatred, it is important that we rally around our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters to support them as they rebuild and heal.

Not long ago in this house we reflected and shared condolences on another terrorist attack within a place of worship. To target a place of worship and a place of peace and love is especially sinister and cruel. An attack on any religion is an attack on all religions and is an assault on our common humanity. From Pittsburgh to Christchurch to Sri Lanka, the intention of these atrocities is to divide us and to turn us against each other—and they will not win. We will unite, condemn and defeat their attempts to attack freedom and peace, as we do today. No-one should be in fear of going to their place of worship, and no-one should be afraid to walk the streets of Sri Lanka or anywhere they call home. Regardless of whether we believe in God or many gods or no god, we should all agree that goodness builds a better future. These people who have forced this tragedy upon us have only hate by their side, and we, together, have peace, compassion and love. We have strength in hope.

The sad irony to this whole sorry incident is that Easter Sunday is a time for Christians to reflect on the hope of the future, and we must all look to tomorrow with hope, with compassion and with love. With these universally human qualities we will resist hate and move forward together as one. Our sympathies go to all those affected in Sri Lanka and to the Sri Lankan people as a whole, and my heart goes out to our Sri Lankan community. You have no doubt been hard-hit by this tragedy and the impact it has had on your loved ones, family and friends at home here and in Sri Lanka, and I stand with you.