Ms GARRETT (Brunswick) — It is with immense sorrow that I join the statements of condolence in this house for the tragic and heinous loss of so many  innocent lives in the criminal horror that was the destruction of flight MH17.

The breadth of devastation that has been  inflicted on  the loved  ones of those lost  is brutal  and relentless.  It is, as the shattered parents of those three beautiful  children  Mo, Evie and  Otis  agonisingly called  it,  a ‘hell beyond hell’. Who among us did  not weep and weep and weep reading those words, looking into the eyes of those joyous children captured by a camera,  their lives ripped from them and their parents condemned to a darkness that we cannot fathom.

The global community  is reeling,  and our  community is  shaken to its core: so many lives have  been lost and so many Australians have been killed  so far from home, half  a world  away, on  war-torn soil.  From our  sporting  clubs to  our classrooms, from our tight-knit regional  communities to our universities and businesses, we grieve for all those families and communities  who  have  been  touched by this tremendous loss. We grieve for those who dedicated their lives and considerable talents to critical research on AIDS. We grieve for  those who chose to move to Australia to  raise a family, we grieve for those who passionately taught in our schools and we especially grieve for those we lost who were only beginning their precious journey in life.

Within the darkness  and the horror,  within  the distressing aftermath  of this violence, we have stood together as a community. It is the responsibility of all of us  to walk alongside those who are grieving, holding their  hands and  their hearts in our collective embrace, sharing as best we can their unspeakably heavy burden. The words in this house today — and they have been fine — are  a small part  of this  most solemn  duty,  as  was  the service  at St  Pauls Cathedral. Hundreds and hundreds of Victorians attended that service, paying their respects to and honouring the victims of this disaster.


People  of many faiths,  backgrounds and nationalities united  not only in grief but also in celebration of the lives of so many special  people. This expression of faith  and community replenishes our  spirit and strengthens  our resolve for peace, and we hope with the deepest  of hope that it gives some comfort to those who are suffering so profoundly at this time.

As the catastrophic events unfolded before a horrified  world, we began to learn about the wonderful individuals that we so abruptly and shockingly lost from our home. Each and every one of these individuals made  huge  contributions  to  our community, making it a  better place to live. Whether it was volunteering at the local football  or soccer canteen,  decades  of dedicated teaching  or  years of service as community leaders, every person we  have  lost left an indelible mark on  those  around  them.  We  send  the  thoughts of  this  Parliament  and  the communities  we represent  to the  families of the victims, and we join  them in acknowledging and celebrating their important contributions to this state.

Just as grief has  reached the many corners of Victoria, one of my team members, Nic McLean, who is doing a work placement  in my office for his  masters degree, is grappling with the loss of his close family friends the Davisons, who were on that doomed  flight. My  prayers  are with  him, with  the family  and with  the broader community, who are all still reeling from such devastating news.

The  destruction of flight MH17 has affected many individuals, many families and many  nations around the world. We grieve for the tremendous loss that our Dutch counterparts have  been  burdened with, the  terrible  impact on  the  people of Malaysia and the many other nations that mourn their citizens. And as we all too well know, our country carries an  enormously  heavy weight, losing so many fine individuals and such young children, like Victorians Piers, Marnix and  Margaux, whose lives were cut so violently short.


Conflicts  and violence grow  and  fester when  nations  and communities harbour animosity and discrimination between people  from  differing  backgrounds. As we grieve for this loss of innocent lives, we renew our commitment in this place to protect and enhance  the peaceful diversity of  our multicultural society.  This harmonious  multiculturalism  is central  to  our resilience, our  unity and our capacity to work towards a safe and peaceful world.

I  join others in  paying  tribute to the six  delegates  en route to  the  20th International AIDS Conference held here  in Melbourne. Their loss  is being felt not only by their loved ones but by all of us who watch with such admiration the tireless  efforts  of  those  waging the  ongoing  fight  against  HIV/AIDS.  In particular we acknowledge the work of Professor Lange, a passionate advocate for improved access to HIV/AIDS medicines in developing countries.

It  is  clear  from the words  and  deeds  of those at  the  conference that the memories of their lost colleagues will be honoured with a steeling of resolve to continue the battle against this insidious disease.

Today  we  stand  here  in this  place  from  different  communities,  different philosophies, different parties, and we stand together as  one in expressing our personal  sorrow and the sorrow of the millions of people  we represent  at this unbelievable horror. We stand  here and  hope that  this message of grief and of love touches  the hearts of those who have lost  such precious  people in  their lives.  We stand  here and  renew our  commitment to peace,  to justice,  to the unending love of parents for their children, to  the good in humanity triumphing over the  darkness. And  most importantly,  we stand here and pay tribute to the souls of those whose lives were taken from them. May they be at rest.

Hansard, 5 August 2014