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Truss And Shorten Address Parliament On Shooting Of Melbourne Teenager

The Acting Prime Minister, Warren Truss, and the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, have addressed Parliament on the shooting of a Melbourne teenager last night.

The 18-year-old, Numan Haider, was shot dead outside the Endeavour Hills police station. He had used a knife to attack an Australian Federal Police officer and a Victoria Police officer.

Media reports today say that Haider was also carrying a bigger knife and an Islamic State flag. The reports say police suspect Haider intended to behead a police officer and post the images online.

  • Listen to Truss (5m)
  • Listen to Shorten (5m)
  • Watch Truss & Shorten (11m)

Hansard transcript of statements by Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Mr TRUSS: Madam Speaker, it is appropriate that I should make a statement to the House regarding the incident at Endeavour Hills police station yesterday. At approximately 7.45 pm last night, one Australian Federal Police officer and one Victorian police officer were subject to an unprovoked attack from an 18-year-old man armed with a knife. The two officers were wounded in the attack; one received multiple wounds and was seriously injured. During the conflict, one officer fired upon the attacker and killed him.

The attacker was a known terrorist suspect, who was a person of interest to our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He had presented to the Endeavour Hills police station voluntarily. Other officers from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team discussed concerns regarding some of his recent actions. While the matter will be subject to a formal investigation, it appears that the officer who fired upon the suspect saved his own life and also the life of his colleague.

The officers involved are at the front line of protecting the community from the very real threat from people who wish to engage in terrorist activities here in Australia. They regularly put personal safety at risk in order to keep us safe. It is at times such as these that we realise the risk and the personal sacrifice that they and their families endure. The seriously injured Australian Federal Police officer is 43 years of age and has a wife and two children. He is a member of the Joint Counter Terrorism Team in Melbourne and has been with the AFP since June 2012. He is in a serious but stable condition. I understand that the Victorian police officer is a Senior Constable and he is undergoing surgery today, but is in a stable condition. Earlier today the Prime Minister, Mr Abbott, spoke to the wives of both injured officers, and the thoughts of the Australian Parliament go out to these officers and their families. We wish them a full and speedy recovery and commend them on the bravery of their actions.

Violence against police in any form will never be tolerated. However, it is vital that the community remains calm and allows our law enforcement and security agencies to conduct this investigation thoroughly. Authorities are also engaging with the local affected communities on the ground. Continued community engagement is critically important at this time. Officials across the country will ensure that the lines of communication and dialogue remain open with our communities so that we can work together to counter the threat from a small number of criminals.

We are an inclusive and tolerant society. The actions of violent criminals do not represent the views or the attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Australians regardless of their faith or ethnicity. I urge the Australian public to remember that violence against anyone based on the religion or their beliefs or race is never acceptable. To turn on each other on the basis of religion or race would just give in to the terrorism groups and what they want. As is normal after events like this, Commonwealth, state and territory counter-terrorism officials will be reviewing the incident to ensure our public security arrangements remain appropriate across the country. I can assure all Australians the law enforcement and security agencies and governments, in partnership with all our communities, will take every action we can to keep them safe.

I reiterate that Australians should remain calm and carry on with the normal lives, confident that our law enforcement and security agencies will do everything humanly they can to keep all members of the Australian community safe so that all Australians can enjoy the freedom and the lifestyle we prize as our birthright.

Mr SHORTEN (Maribyrnong—Leader of the Opposition) (14:05): At times like this the words we say in this place are not as important as the thoughts and prayers that we send. Today our thoughts are with the Australian Federal Police officer and the Victorian police officer who are both still in hospital. Our thoughts are with their families and their colleagues who have spent a sleepless night, anxiously wondering and watching over the ones they love and respect. Our thoughts are with the people of Endeavour Hills who have woken to see their local streets and shops on the national news and their peaceful community dragged to the centre of a national story. Our thoughts are with the family of a young man who may be asking themselves more questions than there are answers.

The events of last night remind us of the bravery and the quality of all who serve in our police and security agencies. They underscore the unpredictable dangers of the work they do in keeping our community safe. Next Monday, 29 September, is National Police Remembrance Day. We will commemorate all those officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and salute the courage of all those who wear a police uniform. Earlier this morning Chief Commissioner Ken Lay told me that these officers who were injured are doing as well as can be expected. Today I join with the Acting Prime Minister to wish these two brave people are speedy recovery.

Madam Speaker, last night the young man who died, Numan Haider, had a family too. In their grief they will be asking themselves, ‘How did it come to this?’ What drove the boy they loved to this desperate end? As difficult as it may be, I suspect many Australians will be asking themselves this same question. We must ask ourselves why a very small number of people raised in Australia would be attracted to the cause of ISIL and the like. The answer is not clear. Perhaps part of the answer is this: in a complicated and uncertain world, fundamentalist extremism gives the illusion of certainty and simplicity. This is the poison of sectarianism and extremism. It offers a sense of power to people who may feel powerless, an outlet for the bottled-up rage and hatred of the isolated or the unwell, but this is only ever a harmful mirage. There is no glory in murder, no honour in crime and no power in death.

We have a responsibility to send a clear message to those drawn to this conflict: whatever problems you may perceive that you have, violence is never the solution. Whatever you think is wrong with the world, extremism and fanaticism will never make it right.

We are a country of 23 million individual souls, but today we are one people. We are a nation of over 200 languages, but today we speak with one voice. We are a nation of many faiths, but today we rededicate ourselves to one belief—the belief that everyone is equal and everyone is welcome. Since mass postwar migration, Australia has gained and grown by including people of every culture and nation. We cannot, we must not and we will not allow a tiny minority to divide our generous, inclusive society. On behalf of our wounded police officers, we cannot allow this country to become polarised. Let us all vow to meet this moment with understanding and tolerance, not division and violence, with compassion and comprehension, not prejudice and exclusion.

We live in a challenging time. We have lived in challenging times before and we shall face challenging times in the future. We understand in this parliament that what Australia needs now is wisdom and understanding to guide us sensibly and safely through the days ahead.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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