SRI LANKA TERRORIST ATTACK

The Hon. R. SANDERSON (Adelaide—Minister for Child Protection) (11:34): I also rise to support the motion moved by the Premier and to give my sincere condolences to the Sri Lankan community and all those who are affected. Easter Sunday is the day Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. However, for those worshipping in the shrine of St Anthony, St Sebastian's Church and the Protestant evangelical Zion Church in Sri Lanka, their day of celebration turned into horror the moment suicide bombers entered each of those places, detonating their devices.

At the same time, a number of foreign tourists were enjoying Easter Sunday breakfasts in restaurants located in the Shangri-La Hotel, the Cinnamon Grand Hotel and The Kingsbury. As guests were enjoying their holiday weekend with family and friends, three suicide bombers destroyed their tranquillity, killing many and delivering to the survivors nightmares for years to come. The six coordinated attacks killed more than 250 people. Each of those people had a story and leave behind loved ones. These attacks have been described as one of the most lethal and serious terrorist operations since the September 11 attacks in the US, outside of attacks within active conflict zones.

But we cannot lose hope. At the evangelical Zion Church, worshipper Mr Ramesh Raju, a 40-year-old father of two, challenged a man carrying a backpack who wanted to enter the church. The man explained that he had come to make a video of the church; however, Mr Raju was rightly dubious of that explanation and led the man away. Shortly after, the man detonated a bomb. Tragically, 29 people, including 14 children, died at that location. Mr Raju also lost his life, but his actions and instincts most definitely saved the majority of the 600 worshippers inside. The actions of civilians such as Mr Raju, the first responders, the three police officers who lost their lives in explosions while looking for the suspects, and the medical teams who treated the injured remind us that there is far more good in the world than evil.

Any act of terrorism and extremism should be condemned. Religious ideologies have no place in this world and no place disrupting and destroying the majority of the population who desire to live in harmony. Last week, the national colours of Sri Lanka lit up the exterior of Adelaide Oval, a wonderful tribute on a landmark in our city and in my electorate but a poignant one, given the battles over the years between Sri Lanka and Australia on the cricket pitch.

It was also moving to see the hundreds who joined the Sri Lankan Catholic Association of South Australia at the mass on Sunday evening at St Francis Xavier's Cathedral for a service led by Father Philip Marshall. It was a privilege to stand alongside the Governor, the Premier and many other MPs in solidarity with our South Australian Sri Lankan community members. To those in Sri Lanka and those closer to home who have been impacted, we stand with you today, united and resolute in condemning the attacks in your country, and extend our sincere and heartfelt sympathies. I commend the motion to the house.