Australians Passing Toughest Test

Prime Minister

The terrible events of the past few days have brought devastation and grief to Sydney and Australia.

They have also shone a light on the bravery and compassion of our people.

All of us have mourned for those lives suddenly stolen in the despicable attack at Bondi Junction.

By now, we’ve seen the faces of the victims and read their stories.

A refugee on his first day in a new job in their new home. A young mum desperately seeking to protect her beautiful baby.

People out shopping, in a manner so familiar to so many of us.

We’ve learned of all the love and humanity those people represented. We’ve gained some sense of what they meant to their families and friends and how heavy the heartbreak will be for those who love them most.

And even as we’ve been seeking to come to terms with the trauma of Saturday afternoon, on Monday evening we were confronted by the horrific scenes at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley.

An act of violence in a peace-loving nation. An act of terror in a place of faith. These are places where Australians fully expect to be safe.

People should be safe doing their shopping, they should be free to pray and worship in peace.

I know that these have been trying times for Australians. But there are rays of light. Because the worst of times have revealed the very best of the Australian people.

The first responders who rushed the injured to hospital and the doctors, nurses and healthcare workers whose dedication and skill has, without doubt, saved lives.

Inspector Amy Scott, running full tilt toward danger. Neutralising the attacker and saving countless lives.

Leaders from every faith, coming together on Monday evening to call for calm, peace and respect.

And everyday people, demonstrating extraordinary bravery. People who could never have imagined they would face such a moment, would never have contemplated how they would act or what they would do.

Yet when the sternest test arrived, when danger was at its worst, their first instinct was to help others.

We think of shop assistants sheltering their fellow Australians. Shoppers helping others get to safety.

The heroics of ‘Bollard Man’.

Damien Guerot is a French citizen on a short-term visa who chose to stand in front of a deadly danger to protect people he’d never met.

As I’ve said, Damien can stay in our country as long as he likes and whatever his passport says, he will always be an honorary Australian.

The police whose service keeps us safe but who were themselves attacked on Monday night.

These are testing times but I know Australia will pass this test.

We will come through this together. By supporting our police and security agencies to carry out their task. By maintaining our faith in each other, by upholding our national unity and by looking always to the example of bravery and compassion that our people provide.

This opinion piece was first published in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, 17 April 2024.

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