The events of 20 January shocked and horrified every Victorian. My heart remains heavy for those who were seriously injured and when I think of the senseless loss of life that occurred in the most horrific circumstances. My heart is also heavy for those who witnessed the atrocities, who saw the confronting events unfolding in front of them. I hope and pray they will eventually be able to find peace and come to terms with what they witnessed that day.
I would like to give thanks to the first responders, from the everyday people on the street who bravely stepped in to offer assistance to the men and women of our emergency services. The bravery shown on that day highlights to me all that is good about this city and our state — our people. The pain of that day was felt by all Victorians. When I laid flowers, picked from my garden, at the memorial in Bourke Street, it was done as a symbol to demonstrate that the people of South-West Coast shared in the grief and that the pain was also felt in our community.
I never want to see this happen again, and I am sure every single person feels the same way. I will work in my role as a legislator to ensure that is a priority. That is what I was elected to do — not to sit back, but to work whilst I grieve. As a legislator, that is what I know is expected from me. The victims had the right to be safe on the street, the victims had the right to live their lives — and that right should never have been taken from them. Working towards stronger bail laws that have greater consequences for people who do the wrong thing, while supporting those who are affected by mental illness, drugs and other issues that may result in such evil actions, needs to be the priority.
I am ready to start work. I find it wrong that I am required to sit back today when I should be working to solve this situation that has resulted from our society accepting too much bad behaviour. I do not get paid to grieve; I am paid to work, and I can work whilst I grieve. As a nurse, a farmer and a mother I was often confronted by terrible things when I would have liked to have taken time off, but I had to get on with it. I find it more insulting than respectful that I am not legislating today. As legislators we owe it to the people who elected us to get on with it and address the concerns of the citizens of Victoria about law and order. It is disappointing that we will not be starting work today after a respectful reflection. Let us honour the victims of this horrific crime by getting to work and doing all that we can as legislators to stop this from ever happening again.