Speech to Parliament: Martin Place Siege

On behalf of the people of Kingsford Smith I offer sincerest condolences to the families of Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, who tragically passed away in the Lindt cafe siege on 15 December 2014.

We offer our sympathy and support for those hostages who were fortunate to survive this senseless act. We thank and pay tribute to the New South Wales Police and our security and intelligence services for their work in bringing this terrible situation to an end.

On the morning of 15 December 2014, on the eve of Christmas, Martin Place was busy, as it usually is in the morning. Sydneysiders were going about their day. Many were on their way to work. Some were doing Christmas shopping in the city. Many of them were working in Martin Place. They were living their lives. Unfortunately, 18 of those Sydneysiders—mums and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters—left home that morning with an expectation of seeing their loved ones in the evening, and for some, tragically, that did not occur.

On that morning at about 9.15, in the very popular Lindt cafe in Martin Place, horror struck. Pure evil was thrust upon the patrons of the Lindt cafe. Katrina Dawson was a very well respected and talented barrister, someone with a very big future at the New South Wales bar, a mother of three young children from a very, very generous family. Katrina's father, Sandy Dawson, was a long-term chairman of the Salvation Army in New South Wales. It was a role that he passed on to his son, Sandy Junior, who is currently the chairman of the Salvos in New South Wales. The family lives in Randwick, in our community. Katrina's husband, Paul Smith, is a very well respected partner at Mallesons law firm, where I worked prior to entering the parliament.

To Paul and the family, I simply say that words cannot do justice to the life of Katrina, a loved mother, a loved wife, and someone with a very big future, whose life was cut down in terrible circumstances. I say to Katrina's family that our community mourns with you. Our thoughts are with you. Know that if there is anything we can do to help you in any way, please feel free to get in touch.

Tori Johnson was a young man in the prime of his life. From all accounts, he was a very good manager and great with people. That showed through in his actions on the day. To the very end he worked to protect the patrons of his store. He was a leader—someone who ultimately gave his life undertaking that duty. To Tori's family, I say: we commiserate with your loss. We find your strength admirable. The fact that you harbour no hatred is a measure of the people you are, and that is inevitably why Tori was the person he was, and why he took those actions.

To the hostages who managed to escape, we say that we are here for you. John O'Brien, one of the first hostages who managed to escape the cafe tragedy, lives in our community. I have spoken to John on numerous occasions. He has relayed to me the troubles he has had in the wake of this terrible tragedy. To John and the other hostages, again we say: we are here for you. To any of those hostages, I know I speak for other MPs in this place when I say that if there is any way that we can help, feel free to pick up the phone and call, even if it is just to talk through things and through the events.

To the New South Wales Police we say an enormous thank you. Thank you for the work you do day-in and day-out, risking your lives to help others. Thank you for the training that you do, which showed through on the night of this terrible tragedy.

In the wake of events such as this we always have inquiries. There will inevitably be criticism of the roles that some have played. But know that that is part of the process of ensuring that in the future we do things better. It is not a criticism of individuals for going to work and doing their jobs. The only person to blame for what occurred in that cafe on that day is the gunman himself. Everyone else—the hostages, the staff, the police, the intelligence agencies, those that worked to end the siege—is a victim of his evil. Those involved, particularly our police force, deserve our praise, respect and thanks for the work that they do.


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