REMARKS BY THE HON. KEVIN ANDREWS MP AT PRAYER SERVICE

Like many here, I am deeply saddened at the incident that took place at the Lindt Café in Martin Place, Sydney.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the innocent victims of this horrendous act, and particularly to the families of the two hostages that lost their lives.

We also remember the police officer who suffered injuries to his face during the action undertaken by police.

As we know Police brought the hostage incident in Martin Place, Sydney to an end shortly after 2.00am this morning.

It has now been confirmed that three people died and six others were injured during the police operation.

The Muslim Community, along with all of Australia, shares in the shock and abhorrence of this crime and rightly condemns this act of violence.

Australia is a peaceful, open and generous society and it is important that all Australians to go about their business as usual.

The values of freedom, democracy and harmony are the same values that we will hold today. These values bring us together and make us stronger – they do not divide us.

The Australian Government, along with all Australians, remains proud of our multi-cultural and multi-faith community.

It is understandable that this incident will evoke strong emotions within the Australian community.

At the same time racism, discrimination, marginalisation and alienation have no place in our society and are totally unacceptable.

Our many cultural, linguistic and faith communities are united by a shared commitment to our nation and its democratic institutions, laws and values.

The Government remains committed to reconciling diversity with unity. We need to accept and maintain our different religious and cultural traditions, while at the same time promoting social cohesion.

Through meaningful dialogue and cooperation, we have made a significant contribution to our social cohesion and the harmonious multicultural, multifaith society for which Australia is renowned.

Acceptance of diversity and respect for the individual are pivotal to promoting the harmony of the community.

We are committed to ensuring that all Australians have the opportunity to participate fully in our multicultural society, regardless of background with a strong emphasis on responsibilities as well as rights.

Importantly, we are committed to a “fair go” for all Australians and will continue to promote diversity, understanding and importantly community harmony.

We are proud of our multicultural and religious diversity of which the Muslim community is an integral part.

On behalf of the Government and Australian people, I thank you all for being here this evening, as our hearts and our prayers go out to the loved ones and families of all involved in this terrible event.