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A Day For Remembrance and Unity, Not Division

It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since what people have called our 9/11. This was our great loss of ordinary, everyday Australians enjoying holidays and end of season sporting team excursions. It is the worst terrorist attack that our nation has had to cope with, 88 Australians dead out of a total death toll of 202 with more than 200 injured.

Last year the United States of America had the 10 year anniversary of their own mass tragedy, 2752 killed in a different place, but for the same unjustifiable lack of reason.

What must be said too, is that it is not just our loss today. While a great number of those murdered were Australians, families around the world, whose loved ones ventured to Bali are also going to be grieving today. It is as much their loss as it is ours. Their grief is no less than ours.

What could have easily split our region, but also our world along rigid religious and cultural lines has actually brought us together in a common bond, a shared belief in decency and respect for all human beings based not on religion, but humanity. The small number of terrorists that have tried to tear our region and world asunder because of hateful and warped ideology are losing and will continue to lose.

Two nations that had experienced a long and troubled relationship, including the split over East Timor just a matter of years before, could quite easily have further parted ways. Instead the leaders of both our nations managed, from the ashes, to piece together arguably a stronger relationship than we have ever had with Indonesia.

Survivors, families and friends have had to endure the full gamut of emotions over the last 10 years. From the initial anger and sadness felt by them, by all Australians back in late 2002, we have shifted to a point in time where, for many, all but the deepest of psychological wounds, the awful memories of devastating scenes, of people dying and dead, people injured remain. Many of the victims, their families and friends have truly reached a level of acceptance, that nothing can bring those they lost back. But the thoughts, the memories will remain forever.

Most of us would not be able to begin to imagine the loss incurred on a human, a familial, a personal relationship level. This is not because many people haven’t experienced death, many of us have. But what the vast majority of us have not experienced is the untimely loss of a loved one, a family member, a friend, a teammate. Nothing could prepare us for such an abrupt and unexpected loss. Nothing could have prepared anyone with any direct involvement for the mode of loss either.

Today is a day that has to be about remembrance, one that we can share with each other. It is a day for quiet reflection, for empathy. Supporting others is something that we as Australians do remarkably well, whether that be through charity, or just providing a shoulder to cry on, calming words and thoughts.

Today is also a day to remember what, because of September 11 in the first place, we are actually fighting for. For some we are fighting a whole religion and that is a misplaced thought, we simply are not. We are not because of the attacks on the western world, fighting mainstream Islam. In the main, what we are fighting is a warped, a truly ugly interpretation of the religion. Yes, we may be hoping to change some of the practices through our efforts in Afghanistan, such as those that see women as second-class citizens, but the primary objective of our mission is to tackle terrorism.

Despite what some people may think, Islam taken as a whole is not dominated by people wishing to do us harm. If it was, we would have been defeated and subjugated across the world by Islam a long time ago. Nothing is to be gained by ascribing the same label to all Islam because of a small sect that hold a particularly obscene belief based on a misinterpretation of the Qur’an which fans hatred and intolerance and leads to gratuitous violence.

Let today be a day of further healing within the families of victims, of their friends and of Australians. Let it also be another day of maintaining and further repairing ties between faiths and cultures and also the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. What today must not be is one of hatred and intolerance toward Islam as a homogeneous group. If we were to do that then we would be surrendering not just to reason, but also to those who perpetrated the horrific acts and those that still want to inflict death upon us.

A Plea to Queenslanders to Stop the Campaign of Stupidity

This has been a very long and hard Queensland election campaign already being over 3 weeks in to an extra long 5 week election campaign which reaches a crescendo on March 24 at 6pm local time when the polls close and we begin to find out the exact numbers. The de facto campaign has been even longer than that, effectively beginning when Campbell Newman became the LNP leader outside of parliament on the 4th of April 2011, nearly one whole year ago. But this campaign has also become a campaign of abject stupidity, bigotry and idiocy by Queenslanders outside of politics, although there has been stupidity and hatred from politicians in recent days.

It is the idiocy of one or two, or perhaps a handful of Queenslanders that I would like to focus on in this plea for Queenslanders to cut the nonsense and calm down, Queensland already has a poor reputation from some of the elites in the southern states who think they have it much better in their neck of the woods, maybe recent events proves they do.

The first incident was a nonsensical act from likely one Queenslander, possibly assisted, who decided that it might be a good idea to take out a grievance on the office of the LNP MP for Coomera, Michael Crandon by firing a bullet through the window of his office, thankfully while the representative was away from the workplace.

This incident, had the MP been present in the office, perhaps unbeknownst to the incredibly brainless peanut could have been much worse and resulted in his physical harm, or harm to an unknowing staffer going about their everyday business activities, trying to do their best for the community that the MP represents.

The second incident occurred within the last 48 hours in the form of an horrific homophobic and racist attack on the electorate office of the the ALP Member for Mulgrave and Minister for Disability Services, Mental Health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Curtis Pitt.

Mr Pitt and his staff arrived to find “Communist Gay, Communist n****r-loving party sprayed across the front window of his electorate office in Gordonvale in Far North Queensland and this attack came the day after the homophobic and just plain odd advertisement by Katter’s Australian Party, raising questions as to whether the two events were linked. The horrific actions may have also been a hateful response to the passage of civil unions by the ALP Government late last year. The spray-painted words were equally awful for Mr Pitt whose wife is of proud indigenous origin.

What have we come to when we “resolve” our political differences by committing criminal acts on the offices of our elected representatives, no matter their political colour?

That is not the only over the top behaviour that has occurred during the election campaign, there was also hate and death threats directed at Katter’s Australian Party candidates in response to their woefully discriminatory advertising campaign and people continuing to shout at MPs and candidates as they travel the streets, meeting and greeting and trying to win your vote. By all means voice your grievances but do so in a respective manner otherwise you will just end up looking like a tool on the nightly news.

Admittedly, these people probably lack the intelligence to write a letter in good faith to their local MP to explain their opposition to a particular policy or policies or the common sense knowledge that they can simply take out their anger at the ballot box by just voting one for the candidate of their choice. At least the latter offender or offenders have the excuse of no brain cells, thanks to the very paint used to commit their obscene act of complete and utter bigotry.

It is these few idiots that spoil things for everyone, giving us all a bad name. So a message to those thinking of doing something stupid involving their elected candidate and the office they hold, stop and think, I know it might be hard and might hurt a little. It wouldn’t hurt for you to grow up and to engage in the public debate in a mature manner, but sadly, I’m probably asking too much.

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