Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Opposition Leader’s Address to Parliament on Christchurch

Mr Speaker, as New Zealand woke on the 15th of March 2019, none of us could have imagined the horror and terror about to be unleashed on our way of life and on our people.

As mums and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in Christchurch went to work, or to school, or to prayer on the 15th of March 2019, none of them thought for a moment that they would return home that night changed forever.

For 50 of the worshippers who entered Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre for Jumu'ah, or Friday prayers, in Christchurch, it would be their last day in this world.

These New Zealanders had their lives ended and all of ours changed forever. For some, New Zealand had been their home for a long time.

They had made their lives here, working in our businesses, going to our schools, living in our rich and diverse communities and espousing everything good about New Zealand. For some, New Zealand was somewhere they found solace in a world full of hate.

New Zealand was, for them, a new opportunity. The chance to live in a country which embraced tolerance, respect, compassion, opportunity and the freedom to be who you want to be.

It was, for them as it is for us, the best country in the world. We let them down. And for that we are sorry.

The unimaginable hurt that our Islamic community is feeling is shared amongst all New Zealanders. Because I know every New Zealander feels this wasn’t just something targeted at our Islamic community, or just to Christchurch.

Over the past four days there’s been a lot of soul searching, reflection, sadness, anger, and shame across New Zealand, and around the world.

On Saturday, I was honoured to join the Prime Minister and other party leaders in Christchurch for what was a day of anguish and tears. It was moving, it was uplifting, it was tragic and it was humbling.

I was privileged to meet with the Christchurch Islamic community and the many people who came to support them.

I came away realising we all have a choice following the violence that tore through their community. To choose fear, hate or anger. Or to choose compassion, love and forgiveness.

Martin Luther King put it so well. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Our strength as a nation is our compassion and our welcoming of diversity. It has been a hallmark of our culture for hundreds of years. This will not change us. Because at times like these we do not consider ourselves Christians or Muslims, Sikhs or Jews. Or Maori or Pakeha, Chinese, Pacific Islander, Indian or any other ethnicity.

Today and forever we are all New Zealanders.

In recent days I have visited mosques in Auckland and Hamilton, adding my support to the voices and prayers of hundreds of thousands of others.

They welcomed me in, as they are welcoming their wider communities with open arms.
Dr Asad Mohsin from the Hamilton Mosque told me yesterday that he chooses love over hate.

We will choose love too.

However, because our peaceful existence is so treasured, hard questions will need to be asked about how this could occur here.

Why are small networks of hateful people able to congregate online and elsewhere, and attempt to sow disharmony?

How can these hateful people then take tangible steps to carry out evil acts?

Do our Police and Intelligence Services have the people, the resources, the legislation and the technology to seek out and prevent such acts?

While these heinous acts were carried out by an individual, there can be no doubt that he had sympathetic associates – certainly online, and probably offline. How do we combat this in an age of social media and increasing technological challenges?

These questions, and others, need to be asked of Government agencies, individuals, companies, public commentators and numerous other groups.

National will play a constructive role in this and in overhauling New Zealand’s firearms laws. No-one can understand why anyone needs military-style semi-automatic weapons for recreational use.

In addition, I would like to see New Zealand re-evaluate the boundaries of acceptable social and political discourse.

Our resolve now should be to take every opportunity to push back against extremism.
To call out hate and fear when we see it. And to stand up to the vile ideologies that exist to spread hate, fear, mistrust and lies.

What we say has the ability to influence the actions of others. Because everything changed on Friday the 15th of March. It showed the fragility of the peace we’ve come to treasure.

The National Party looks forward to learning more in the days ahead about what form this examination of the events that occurred in Christchurch will take. The formal investigations into these events needs to be thorough, open and honest.

As is always the case when tragic, evil acts occur, we see an immediate counterweight of bravery and compassion. Christchurch has been no exception.

Both civilians and law-and-order professionals immediately showed superhuman courage in the face of rapidly unfolding, extremely frightening and unprecedented events. Medical professionals have worked non-stop since to save lives in truly horrific circumstances.

I want to pay tribute to the New Zealand Police, the Ambulance services, the Red Cross, our Defence Force, healthcare workers, and the vast range of volunteers who have done some much to try and soften the blow since Friday.

While I was in Christchurch I met with a young Policeman. I know his family well.

He was one of the first responders on the day of the shootings. He was emotional as he told me about what it was like that day. He’s been a policeman for six years but said that no amount of training or experience could have prepared him for what he and his colleagues faced that day.

No one could be.

All of those who were working that day will never forget what they saw. To everyone who has responded on the ground in Christchurch – thank you. You are heroes.

New Zealand owes you a debt of gratitude.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On Reforming Parliament’s Toxic Culture

It would be nice to think Parliament was a forum where rationality ruled – and where policies are raised and evaluated in terms of their contribution to the greater good. Obviously, it isn’t like that... More>>

Historic Assualt Allegation: Parliamentary Service Staff Member Stood Down
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard said today: “I do not want to cut across any employment or possible police investigations, but I am satisfied that the Parliamentary Service has removed a threat to the safety of women working in the Parliamentary complex." More>>


Budget: New Service For Young People Leaving Care

The Wellbeing Budget contains funding to build a new nation-wide Transition Support Service which is expected to help around 3,000 young people over the next four years after it starts on July 1. More>>


Children's Commissioner: Too Many Youths On Remand In Secure Facilities

It is unacceptable that young people are being remanded to youth detention facilities on charges that have not been proven, Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says. More>>


Media Fund: New Alliance For Local Democracy Reporting

The pilot will see eight journalists recruited to provide local democracy news to a wide array of media. Funding will come from the RNZ /NZ On Air Innovation Fund, a one-off $6m fund announced last year. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Coal’s Negative Message To The School Protest

As schoolkids around the world commited to another round of protest action against climate change, the re-election of (a) the Morrison government in Australia and (b) the Modi government in India have been a kick in the teeth for future generations. More>>


Fatal 2018 Crash: Police Officer Should Not Have Engaged In Pursuit

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that a Police officer should not have tried to stop or pursue a car thought to contain young people in Palmerston North on 28 May 2018. More>>


New Poverty Targets: Goals Overlook 174000 Children In Worst Poverty

Child Poverty Action Group is pleased to see the Government set ambitious 10-year targets for child poverty reduction, but we are disappointed not to see a target set for improving thousands of young lives where the worst of poverty is found. More>>


Study: Guidelines Needed To Avoid Risks In Government AI

New Zealand is a world leader in government algorithm use – but measures are needed to guard against their dangers. This is the conclusion of a New Zealand Law Foundation-funded report from the University of Otago’s Artificial Intelligence and Law in New Zealand Project. More>>


Pike River: Families Welcome Opening Of Drift

The group representing 29 of the Pike River Families - the Pike River Family Reference Group - has welcomed the unsealing of the mine at a private family event this morning... More>>





InfoPages News Channels