THE HON MICHAEL DANBY MP
SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION,
SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR THE ARTS
MEMBER FOR MELBOURNE PORTS
Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (18:00): I rise to express, as have my colleagues on both sides of this House, the horror and sadness that we felt, and still feel, over the attack in the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place in December. It is appropriate that this House pass this condolence motion, and am honoured to speak to it.
We remember that this event took place at almost the same moment that 145 children, in a school in Pakistan, were murdered by the same mentality—the same ‘cult’, as the Prime Minister calls them—by a different faction of the jihadism which is evident throughout the world. It is a tragedy not just for Australia. There are much worse things happening to other people in other nations, and to Australians overseas, and we have a special insight into it now because we have seen it here on our own mainland. Our hearts must go out particularly to the mothers and fathers of those poor young women in Nigeria who have been kidnapped by those brutes and whom the Nigerian army, even with international assistance, have been unable to retrieve.
I want to say something about the bravery of all of the hostages, as has been recalled in various media appearances and in various speeches in this House. I share my colleagues’ admiration for the bravery of our fellow citizens and acknowledge the 16 hours of terror that they suffered. Katrina Dawson, the barrister, is someone who impressed me very much. My wife is also a highly capable barrister and I see in Ms Dawson a reflection of my own personal circumstances. She was a mother of three and we mourn for her children and her husband for the years they have to go without her, so unnecessarily. Tori Johnson, aged 34, the manager of the restaurant, was one who was particularly focused on by the person who engineered the siege. I have recommended to opposition leader Bill Shorten that he should be nominated for the Cross of Valour, Australia’s highest civilian bravery decoration.
The actions of Man Haron Monis have rightly been described by commentators as a ‘lone wolf’ attack. Monis claimed to be acting on behalf of Da’esh, and the attack was subsequently claimed by that group, but there does not appear to be any evidence that his attack, unlike the attack in Paris, was conducted in any manner of cooperation with one of these monster organisations in the Middle East. Monis took it upon himself to conduct this attack and he did so. In a sense it does not matter whether he was in direct contact with them, because Da’esh—IS, as people call it—appealed to its ideological adherents to conduct just this kind of random attack. That is the danger that is a continuum in the international circumstances all around the world that we must feel here in Australia. It is impossible for our police and security agencies to know what is in the mind of every person who reads the evil scripts written for them by Da’esh, or al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, or Boko Haram or some other of these deranged jihadist groups.
This was not the only lone wolf attack in recent months and years. Indeed, there has been a spate of such attacks where an individual, or sometimes a group of two, has attacked random passers-by as Da’esh has argued for. We saw it in the Boston bombing of 2013; the brutal slaying of Fusilier Lee Rigby in the UK the following month; the attack on the Jewish museum in Belgium in May last year, where four innocent people visiting the museum were murdered by a returnee—just as we have got this phenomenon here in Australia—from an experience of fighting with Da’esh in Syria and Iraq. The Canadian parliament was attacked. The clerk of the Canadian parliament had to shoot dead a jihadist attacker to prevent further casualties amongst MPs or staff. We have seen numerous lone wolf attacks in Israel, including the stabbing to death of four rabbis at prayer in a part of West Jerusalem. It was nothing to do with a conflict, nothing to do with settlements. It was completely away from that area. There was a group of people who oppose praying on the Temple Mount because, to them, that is a violation of the spirituality of that place, but they were singled out by two people who lived in the area who went in, stabbed them to death and tried to run away.
Most recently, of course, there were the execution-style slayings of the Charlie Hebdo staff and the siege at a Jewish supermarket in Paris—not a random attack, as someone in Washington claimed recently, although they are trying to walk that back. It was not a random attack but a deliberate attack on a kosher supermarket. Because the people in there were Jewish they are particularly fearful of these jihadists all around the world. These operations, which terrified France, were coordinated by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in some kind of macabre competition with Da’esh, who do the random attacks, the lone wolf attacks, and al-Qaeda thought, ‘These people are getting all the international publicity; we’d better get in and kill some people in Paris too.’ What a terrible international phenomena they are. We all have to act together to prevent these kinds of things spreading and coming more to this country.
These attacks have in common two things: perpetrators motivated by violent jihadism and a heeding of the call by the organised jihadi groups for individuals to take it upon themselves to randomly kill infidels. When looked at collectively, these attacks signify a trend, a continuum. These events in Sydney were part of a continuum of tragedies that are happening all around the world. Since the September 11 attacks, Western countries have enacted numerous laws to prevent terrorist acts occurring on their soil. In the face of new tactics and new technologies, parliaments have adapted. In this context, I am proud of the bipartisan nature of counterterrorism legislation passed by this parliament.
As democracies have adapted, so have the espousing terrorists ideologies. Now, as I have said, we have a competition between Da’esh and al-Qaeda to see how many people they can kill and terrorise in the Middle East, and how many people their supporters can kill and terrorise in the West and perhaps Asia. So, individuals and small groups have to be disrupted and arrested, as we have seen today, if we want to prevent these attacks being perpetrated by so-called cleanskins happening again in our country.
The individual at the centre of this event might have been stopped. Monis was out on bail for alleged involvement in his ex-wife’s murder, among many other charges, which has led many Australians to question why he was at large. I would encourage people who have that sceptical view to listen to a report by the ABC’s religion program five years ago, in which the presenter asks why Monis was allowed to proliferate his brand of extremism for so long. The report is available on the ABC website. As I said, that program was made five years ago—long before this tragic event. Taking Monis off their watch list was a mistake by the security services, but we should not blame them. How many extremists can ASIO and the AFP monitor? However, people who are vexatious or mentally ill, yet who proclaim an affinity to jihadism or speak positively of any of the groups listed as terrorists by the Australian government, must be taken seriously. Perhaps they should remain in custody. Even these mentally challenged people must be included in the lone wolf threat. Unattached, ideologically agitated jihadists who are appealed to by Da’esh to mount spontaneous attacks in places like Australia are people we should be considering.
As the member for Fraser said, when we enter this place representing 100,000 constituents and their families we feel a deep sense of responsibility. It is the gravity of this place that decisions we make directly affect the security and safety of those Australians who entrust us with this responsibility. Parliament has a responsibility to do all it can to maintain Australia’s record of preventing these attacks in Australia. That is why we must take the report that the government is presenting very seriously, and I am pleased that the Prime Minister has undertaken to bring this back to the House.
There are many Australians involved with this organisation Da’esh over there in Syria and Iraq. There are people returning to Australia; there are reportedly 20 ex-jihadists already back here. We have a responsibility to see that we suppress these jihadists. I am sure all members of parliament wish the ADF forces over there assisting the international forces success in suppressing Da’esh, but we also have a responsibility here at home. Many Australians are killed overseas in terror attacks. Our task is to ensure that deaths are prevented here on mainland Australia. We have to learn from this report and we have to see that there are no more Lindts in Australia. That should be our tribute to the victims.