Speech to Parliament: Terrorist Attacks Around The World

On behalf of the people of Kingsford Smith, I extend our sincerest condolences and sympathies to Parisians and the people of France as they recover from this evil atrocity perpetrated upon their nation by a group of individuals who are not human but, really, animals.

Kingsford Smith has a very proud French heritage that is probably stronger than in any other electorate across the country. Since February 1788, when Jean Francois de Galaup, Comte de La Perouse, sailed into Botany Bay—or Kamay, as it was then known—our area has celebrated a rich French heritage, with places like Frenchmans Road, which is still there in Randwick and was one of the first roads in Sydney, named after the people from La Perouse's original expedition who used to make the trek over the sandhills from Botany Bay to what is now Circular Quay; Beauchamp Road in Matraville, where I live, which was named after a famous French explorer; and, of course, the suburb of La Perouse, where La Perouse's original expedition set foot on land in Australia.

Since that time, the bonds between our community and the people of France have grown stronger and stronger, and more and more people of French descent have settled in our community. This is reflected in the wonderful institutions of French heritage in our area.

Principally, Australia's premier French school, Lycee Condorcet, which is located in Maroubra, provides a first-class French education to not only the kids of French expats but many locals as well.

It has a very strong and proud sporting heritage. I see the kids from the French school at the local pool at Maroubra when I go to swim some laps every morning, and they are very strong swimmers. It is a school with a great sporting tradition.

Last week I phoned the principal, Philippe Courjault, to extend the condolences, thoughts and prayers of our community to the students and their families. A wonderful service was held at the school in honour of those who passed away tragically in Paris a couple of weeks ago.

There is also the Friends of the Laperouse Museum, a group of locals and people of French heritage who keep the wonderful heritage of La Perouse and his expedition to Australia alive in our community. On Saturday last week, they had their annual general meeting. I attended to deliver a message of love and support to the French people who live in our community and also, more widely, to the people of France. Let me tell you, on behalf of our community, that we feel your grief. We offer our sincerest prayers and thoughts in your moment of grief.

When my wife and I visited France on our honeymoon, we were fortunate to travel to the north of France to some of the World War I battlefields. It was a very moving experience. One of the most touching moments was visiting the Victoria school in Villers-Bretonneux and the wonderful monument to Australian soldiers on the outskirts of that little village. As you walk into the Victoria school, named after the state of Victoria, you see the following words emblazoned along the entrance to the school: 'Do not forget Australia'—or, in French, 'Ne pas oublier l'Australie.' When the school was ruined in World War I, it was rebuilt by the people of Victoria. It was the people of Victoria's gift to that wonderful little town that many Australians had fought at on behalf of the Allies. The catchcry of the time was: 'By diggers defended, by Victorians mended.' An appeal went around the state of Victoria for people to chip in to rebuild this school, and that is exactly what Australia did—and the people of Villers-Bretonneux have never forgotten that.

When my wife and I travelled to this little town, we got lost on our way to the cemetery and the Australian memorial. I went into a little grocery store and asked the woman behind the counter if she could provide me with directions on how to get to the memorial, and she said, 'I will take you there.' I said, 'No, no, you don't need to take me there; just provide me with instructions.' She said, 'No, you are Australian; I will take you there.' That, to me, symbolised this wonderful bond between Australia and France, which is still evident to this day, 100 years later, in the people of that town. As the words that are emblazoned on the school say, they have not forgotten Australia. You walk around that little school and you see drawings that the kids have done of kangaroos, koalas, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It is really a touching experience to see that Australia has made such a difference to that particular French town.

When the Victorian bushfires hit on Black Saturday some years ago, in 2011, the people of that town responded and again provided support to the towns in rural Victoria that were hit by those shocking bushfires—another great testament to the bond between our two nations and our people.

As I expressed at the Friends of the Laperouse Museum on the weekend: as the words emblazoned on the Victoria school state 'do not forget Australia,' now is the time that Australians will not forget France. Now is the time that Australia stands by our good friends in France, and that is exactly what we will do.

France is one of the world's great republics—a strong nation and a symbol of liberty, freedom, democracy and, importantly, peace. In the wake of the terrorist attacks a couple of weeks ago, the people of Paris and the people of France have stood tall and said: 'We will not bow to threats and acts of violence or terrorism. We will not change our way of life. We will continue to uphold those great cultural principles that defined our nation.'

Well, I say to the people of Paris and the people of France, on behalf of their friends in the electorate and community of Kingsford Smith: the people of Australia stand proudly with you; we will, with you, see off this threat; and you will continue to be a fine example to the world of freedom, liberty and peace. May those who lost their lives in those terrible terrorist attacks rest in peace.

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