Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (10:58): I would like to say that those were fine words from the member for Bradfield, and I associate myself with them. Ten years on, we can look back on the tragic events of 11 September 2001 with a seasoned perspective. We have looked back and mourned for 10 years. We have mourned the loss of loved ones, friends and even strangers, but more importantly we have mourned the loss of innocence. We need look no further than the statements of the member for Chifley and the member for Higgins to see that the grief of that loss is still raw and still very real.
The day that aeroplanes turned from being a means of transport to a means of destruction was a turning point for humanity. We will not forget the horror of the event nor the pain and suffering of those directly affected. We will always look back and mourn that loss. But, 10 years on, it is time to look at this event in its historical context, to look at the part this event will play in history and to consider how it will be viewed in 100 years time, when no living soul remembers the event itself. Will this event mark the end of something or the beginning of something, or perhaps both? Now, 10 years on, we are not so blinded by hurt, grief and anger, and we can see this tragedy for what it really was. It was not an attack on the World Trade Center—they were just buildings. It was not an attack on New York—New York is just a city. September 11 was, above all else, an attack on ideals and a way of life. An attack on the ideals and way of life that we share in Australia. Around the globe, we have a vast array of people—different races, different cultures, different religions, different ideals and different lifestyles. That is great because diversity enriches humanity. On the fringes, we have the more extremist groups with extremist views and beliefs. That is okay too, I suppose—to each his or her own. But when the most extreme ideologies are combined with the desire, the willingness and the ability to hurt, maim, kill, and destroy other peoples and their way of life, it is no longer tolerable.
We must resolve to learn the most important lessons from September 11, 2001. We can mourn our loss and we can even forgive the perpetrators of those crimes. To forgive is a virtue. But to forget would be contemptuous. We cannot just increase security at airports and then walk away thinking we have learned the lesson and taken preventative action. Increased security will only make it a bit harder to repeat the exact same exercise. Hatred is versatile. Hatred will find another way to attack. In learning the most important lesson from September 11, we need to look at the root cause of the issue—the Islamic extremists who are out there, and in this country too, who seek ways to express their hatred.
Australia is a nation of diverse people. We have welcomed people from all nations and cultures to our shores and mostly they all adopt the same principles, the same lifestyles, the same values and the same love of this country. I believe all these cultures and faiths within our country in our communities should be protected from the radical extremists who plan to attack our way of life and our values.
The member for Eden-Monaro, in speaking to this matter yesterday, pointed out that the solution to defeating this extremism was engaging moderate Muslims in this country who share our values and our concerns. He is definitely right. We do need to engage with moderate Islam. But that does not mean that we turn a blind eye to radicalism and the Islamic extremism that exists in our midst.
I would like to distinguish here between moderate Islam and the Islamic extremists. Sometimes when the word 'Islam' is used people get offended, but there is a very big difference between mainstream, moderate Islam and Islamic extremism. In the North Queensland city of Mackay, we have a strong moderate Islamic community. It is a community of wonderful people who attend a local Islamic centre very close to the boundary we share, Deputy Speaker Livermore. I am sure there are some people in that area who are in your electorate. It is a community of wonderful people who share their faith in a constructive and compassionate way. They are Muslim but they are Queensland.
I know many of the Islamic community in Mackay personally. Neighbours to my family where I grew up, a Muslim family, are an asset to the Mackay region. The Sam family, for instance, live around the corner. They are a Melanesian family involved in cane growing. At times I have had the privilege of being a passenger in a taxi driven by Ollie Sam, a member of this family. They are great people.
One of the difficulties this community faces is the fear generated by Islamic extremists. To protect, preserve and encourage moderate Islam we must be vigilant against extremism. We must be on guard against those amongst us who would have us killed and our culture destroyed. As a nation we are tolerant and forgiving, but we must learn to draw a line in the sand and not forget what hatred exists in this world and in this country.
A few weeks ago, I spoke in this place on the history of the convicted terrorist David Hicks. Hicks, an Australian, had trained with al-Qaeda and met Osama Bin Laden—he admitted that—several times for information briefing purposes. He was captured in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. He was not a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He knew exactly where he was and exactly what he was doing.
For whatever reason, we have welcomed him back into Australia. Such forgiveness, I suppose, is admirable. But when I saw that Hicks was shortlisted for the Premier's Literary Awards, I did have to question the integrity of the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, in letting that go ahead. In an attempt to defend the man who fought on the other side with the extremists, the Premier said:
The nomination of this book, in my view, is a profound reaffirmation of the values that distinguish us from those who want to terrorise others.
Well, no, it is not. What it was was the Premier giving affirmation to a book written by someone who had sided with the extremists, with the terrorists. It was the Premier giving affirmation on the same day that another Australian soldier lost their life fighting in that same country that Hicks went into so that he could fight on the side of the extremists.
I do not expect the Premier to put too much weight on my thoughts on the book. I thought at the time that there was no-one better, from the defence point of view, to reflect the view of diggers than Keith Payne, who was awarded the highest military honour that this country can bestow, the Victoria Cross. I am proud to say that he lives in Mackay in my electorate of Dawson. In talking to me about Hicks and that award, he said, 'I think it's very poor form for this nomination, and that's putting it mildly.' He told me that he had been with the Premier at the opening of a Korean war memorial and she was saying glowing things about our diggers. Now he is basically horrified to see her endorsing a book written by a former fellow traveller—you could say a soldier in arms—of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Keith Payne said he had a message for the Premier, and that was: 'Make up your mind about what side of the field you're playing on.' Hicks was a minor player when it comes to extremism in Australia. But if we think that Islamic extremists are all from overseas, we really need to think again.
There is a group here in Australia called Hizb ut-Tahrir, a political party that survived a proposed ban in Australia—it must have been under the Howard government—even though they are banned in many other countries, including countries throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. I quote what is on the public record: they believe that Australian diggers fighting in Afghanistan are 'fair game' and that Muslims 'have an obligation' to attack them. They are a group that condones the killing of Australian soldiers. Their main mission is the establishment of an Islamic caliphate or a supranational Islamic government where sharia reigns supreme and non-Muslims are treated as second-class citizens.
Next month Hizb ut-Tahrir will hold a seminar on the Afghanistan war, I note, in both Sydney and Melbourne. The seminar is titled 'Afghanistan—10 years of Injustice, Oppression and Failure'. No doubt we will have Uthman Badar, the spokesman of the group, telling us once again that Australian diggers should be killed. Maybe what he will not tell us—he and his comrades in this group—is about the oppression and injustice that reigned in Afghanistan for many years prior to the current conflict—oppression and injustice that was mandated by the extremist Taliban regime against the Afghan people, against Muslims themselves. I and no doubt many others will be keeping a close watch on Hizb ut-Tahrir, this upcoming seminar and their future activities, because without a doubt the hate that is peddled by these people is of the same pedigree as that harboured in the hearts of those who flew those planes into the World Trade Center, into the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania, killing thousands and changing this world forever.
The former President of the United States of America, the late Ronald Reagan, was a man of eloquence. I want to paraphrase him here, albeit a bit at length, because his words, which were originally spoken against the threat of Soviet Russia, apply equally now to the threat of Islamic extremism and terrorism throughout the Western world.
Long before he held the title of President—in fact, in 1964—Ronald Reagan spoke these words at a Republican National Convention:
There's no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there's only one guaranteed way you can have peace—and you can have it in the next second—surrender. Admittedly, there's a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning … friends refuse to face—that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand—the ultimatum. And what then … someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically.
… … …
We'll preserve for our children this—
'Western civilisation,' I suppose Ronald Reagan could have said—
the last best hope of man on earth, or we'll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
History will judge—only time will tell—whether the horrendous attacks on 11 September, 2001 were the wake-up bell for us in the West to restore and promote the values of Western civilisation and to defend them against those who oppose them or whether it was the bell tolling on these virtues, our civilisation and our way of life.