Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (19:18): The terrorist attacks on Paris were designed with maximum human, economic and social impact in mind. More than just an assault on France’s people, this was a strategic assault on her economy—to undermine her tourism industry, an essential part of the French nation’s prosperity. France was visited by 84.7 million foreign tourists in 2013, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world. In 2012, travel and tourism directly contributed 77.7 billion euros to the French GDP, 30 per cent of which comes from international visitors. The total contribution of travel and tourism represents 9.7 per cent of GDP and supports 2.9 million jobs—10.9 per cent of employment in the country.
Paris is the third most visited city in the world and the most visited by Australians. For Australians, the love affair with France has continued to grow over the past decade. According to statistics from the French embassy, in 2012 more than one million Australians visited France. Additionally, in 2014 Australians applied for a total of 1,716 long-stay visas, with around 3,000 Australians living in France. No wonder so many of us have a story connected to this outrage. Australians will not be deterred from their love affair with Paris by this attack. We know of the horrendous death toll in Paris, along with the scores of injured, many critically. These killings were brutal; they were without mercy and without compassion. They leave nothing in their wake except death, unfulfilled dreams and ambitions and a nation of mourners who will never understand why—for how could any rational person really understand this insanity?
But for the bloody-minded fanatics of ISIL, the Paris attacks made perfect strategic sense. It is vital we do not become victims of that strategy, giving up hope or control of our destinies or allowing people to lose their sense of belonging in their own countries. We cannot jump at shadows or make those refugees we have sworn to welcome from Syria scapegoats for those who would tell you there are terrorists hiding around every street corner. Yes, our world has changed, but we are the ultimate controllers of its destiny. We have the power to push it in the right direction or allow it to slide in the wrong direction. ISIL, despite its destructive objectives, is not in charge; we are.
The Paris attacks were an all-too-familiar modern tale of people being murdered en masse to satisfy the blood lust and warped ideologies of a crazed few. The French, to their credit, will mourn their dead but will remain unbowed, continuing to cherish liberty, egalitarianism and fraternity. Many Australians feel somewhat French in this attitude. We too have a country that promotes a fair go for all, equality for all and egalitarianism. I think this is part of the reason we feel such deep empathy for our French countrymen. More than just an attack on people, the events of 13 November were an assault on what we all hold sacred. The evidence was there for everyone to see, as people across the world took to the streets in support of France’s people and the French themselves defiantly sang La Marseillaise, embracing liberty, cherished liberty.
As consuming as the events in Paris have become, we must look past them to the broader picture. We must be mindful of what ISIL is trying to achieve and not fall victim to it.
These attacks were designed to kill France and her allies from inside and out. They were designed, in ISIL’s rhetoric, to further divide the world into two camps: ‘one for the people of faith, the other for the people of disbelief—all in preparation for the final great war’. I am a man of faith, but I cannot profess to embrace anything ISIL stands for.
If we live in fear and decide to give up international travel to beautiful countries like France, so much the better for ISIL. If we decide to deride our own Muslim people as traitors, so much the better for ISIL. If we become insular and cannot embrace the future, so much the better for ISIL. As writer and social commentator Waleed Aly said in the wake of the Paris attacks:
They want to start World War III—a global war between Muslims and everyone else—that’s what they want to create. They want societies like France and Australia to turn on each other.
They want countries like ours to reject their Muslims and vilify them … because this evil organisation has it in their heads that if they can make Muslims the enemy of the West, then Muslims in France and England and America and here in Australia will have nowhere to turn but to ISIL.
The idea of ISIL leading us to World War III is fanciful. The group has an overblown idea of its own importance. And yet it does have the ability—especially in a globalised world, where the media is everywhere—to shake the confidence of people, whether citizens or international travellers. It does have the ability to make people turn on each other, but only if we give in to that.
We embrace the future. We make the future. The future is ours, not theirs. We must embrace liberte, egalite and fraternite, now and forever more. To all our first responders: thank you for all that you do. God bless you and keep you safe.