Yesterday, a heartbreaking tragedy occurred in the centre of Melbourne. Four people are dead including a young child. In times of crisis and tragedy, it is important to reflect on how our leaders respond.
Why are the Words of our Leaders Important?
It is important to reflect on the words of those who seek high office and those who seek to represent the people.
Their words can either unify us in strength and respond with solutions that will protect us from greater harm, or they can divide us and offer us non-practical knee jerk reactions.
Their words should console us and give us the strength to carry on. Their words should respect the lives lost and those who are injured.
Their words should pay tribute to those who selflessly put their own lives in danger, whether it is emergency services or volunteers at the scene.
Our leaders should respond with genuine empathy, seriousness and concern. Their first concern should always be about the people.
The public and of course other leaders should outright condemn politicians who make a tragedy all about themselves or their agenda.
I will leave the responses from our various leaders and politicians below for the readers to judge.
Malcolm Turnbull – Liberal Leader. Prime Minister of Australia
The prayers and heartfelt sympathies of all Australians are with the victims and the families of the victims of this shocking crime in Melbourne today. And we thank and acknowledge the heroism, the professionalism of the police and the emergency workers who rushed to the aid of the victims, joined by bystanders who mindless of their own danger sought to help those who had been attacked in this shocking crime. Their love, their selflessness, their courage, is the very best of our Australian spirit.
Bill Shorten – Leader of the Labor Party. Leader of the Opposition
All Australians stand with the people of Melbourne in this horrific moment.
We offer our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the lost.
We pray for the injured and the frightened, in particular the very young children.
We pay tribute to the first responders. We give thanks for the bravery of the police, the speed of the paramedics and the skill of those who’ve worked to save the lives of the injured.
We salute those passers-by who rushed to the aid of their neighbours.
But we also know that on dark days like this, words are so inadequate.
Words can’t capture the horror we feel. Words can’t comfort those who’ve lost someone they love. Words won’t heal people who’ve been hurt or banish the fear. Words can’t put back the lives stolen in a few minutes of madness.
It’s difficult for all of us to comprehend how, why and what has happened. Harder still to understand that it happened here, in a country and a city that prides itself on being such a welcoming, safe and peaceful place.
Victoria Police have made it clear this was not an act of terror, it was an act of murder. A cowardly, senseless, destructive crime that has claimed the lives of innocent people.
We wait for answers, we wait for justice and tonight we hold all those in sadness and pain, close to our hearts.
People who are concerned about loved ones can call the helpline on 1800 727 077.
Daniel Andrews – Premier of Victoria. Leader of Victorian Labor Party.
Our hearts are breaking this afternoon.
People have died in the heart of our city.
Others are seriously injured. Young and old. And all of them were innocent.
All of them were just going about their day, like you or I.
Some families are just starting to find out the news about their loved ones, and right now, our thoughts are with each and every one of them.
I’m so proud of all the Victorians who reached out and provided care and support to strangers today.
I’m so thankful for all our police, paramedics and emergency services workers who launched into action, and will now be working around the clock.
And I hope that everyone can be patient and cooperative, so we can let these professionals do their job.
This was a terrible crime – a senseless, evil act – and justice will be done.
Richard DiNatale – Leader of the Australian Greens
My heart goes out to everyone affected by the horrible scenes we’ve seen in Melbourne’s CBD today.
Adam Bandt – Australian Greens. Member for Melbourne.
I’ve stood on those Bourke Street corners many times, including with kids. My heart goes out to everyone suffering today. Big thanks to emergency service workers, especially those trying hard tonight to save lives.
Pauline Hanson – Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party
I have just been told that there has been a terrorism attack in Melbourne.
People don’t look right. That they are not going to assimilate into our society, have a different ideology, different beliefs, don’t abide by our laws, our culture, our way of life, don’t let them in. Make this country safer for future generations.
All terrorist attacks in this country have been by Muslims. (Journalist: No they haven’t).
It is up to us to accept, revere, reject, condemn & shame
Australia is not immune to tragedy. Our tragedies are from the actions of other human beings or forced upon us by nature with fires, floods and cyclones.
Regardless of our politics, we should always seek to reject those who do not put others first. This is an automatic indicator that the inherent requirement to represent others is simply not a driver for that person and their motivations for public office are disingenuous and self-serving.
It is up to us to accept and revere Leaders who stand with us, comfort us and guide us in times of tragedy. Our existence as human beings, as community members, as families and as individuals is above all else.
It is up to us to reject, condemn and shame those who are not genuine in their desire to serve the people. It is up to us to demand that the media and other leaders do the same. However, trusted and true Leaders should need no encouragement from the people to do so.
A Very Stark and Dark Contrast
There is a very stark and dark contrast between the words of Pauline Hanson today and that of other prominent leaders. As someone who the media promotes as a potential next Prime Minister; it is really important to frame Hanson’s words as the central to her motivations in public life.
Will the media continue to give a free rein and a supportive kid-glove approach to someone who believes they ‘say what Australians are thinking’ yet puts herself before others, even in times of devastating tragedy?
Well Pauline, yesterday Australians were thinking about the lives lost, the people injured and those who were left terrified and the work of our emergency services and volunteers. Australians were not thinking about where your next vote will come from.
The media is constantly giving the Pauline Hanson One Nation Party an absolute gamut of free advertising and promotion in the media, through their reporting, radio and TV shows. The media should take responsibility and cease this free promotion of this self-serving right wing nationalist immediately. The media are not oblivious to the power of influence they hold over the voting public.
Clearly, the contrast is in the video of this interview, where Hanson actually smirks as she turns away from James Ashby back to the media, before she went into her tirade about blaming terrorism and Muslims for this absolutely devastating tragedy.
Not once did she show empathy, compassion, concern or horror at what had occurred. Not once did she want to know more. The scale of the attack. How many injured. Was there still a threat?
Instead, Hanson smirked, turned to face the media and with smug satisfaction she announced there had been a terrorist attack in Melbourne. Then she used the death of others and the serious injuries of others to promote her populist ideology.
Considering Populism is the stark contrast between the corrupt elite and the will of the people; for Hanson to completely exclude any concern for the people from her rant, really reeks of blatant hypocrisy. It is time to put Australia first and reject this charlatan.
Clearly Hanson is all about the conversion of votes into cash and the luxury the power that public office brings. Clearly, no one but herself was her concern today.
Imagine Hanson leading the country in a time of war? No thanks.
It no longer saddens me that Hanson’s popularity is increasing. It absolutely distresses me.
It is time the Media took some Responsibility
The media is a very, very powerful being and it can and does shape the minds of the voting public. They media are very aware of their own influence. It is time the media took some responsibility for their role in the promotion of politicians.
We can no longer afford to stand by and to continue to allow the media to promote politicians who are disingenuous and self-serving and this is always very evident in times of crisis and tragedy. I thank the media who have called her actions out.
Let’s hope Channel Seven responds with a blanket ban.
Our country and our people are too precious to waste our faith in those who do not stand with us, but stand for themselves.
I know along with everyone reading this, my heart goes out to the people who have lost their lives and were injured yesterday and also to their families.
I would like to end this article by directing readers to another very good article on this topic by Jennifer Wilson: Giving a Damn Still Matters.
Indeed it does. Let’s not lose that anymore than we already have.