Councillor MARX: Yes, thank you, Madam Chair, it is with a heavy heart that I stand today to speak on this motion of condolence. This is a tragedy of enormous proportions that has affected both the country of my birth and my adopted country. Growing up in New Zealand, the police did not carry guns, and to this day they still do not carry guns. I saw my very first policeman with a gun when I arrived in Brisbane in 1986.
Not long after the tragedy took place, I received a text message from one of my children asking if I had any family in Christchurch. I assured her I didn’t; only to find out sometime later that in actual fact one of my aunties was in Christchurch at the time and was caught up in the lockdown of the city. To say I was shocked was an understatement.
Some of you will be aware that on Sunday there was a large prayer gathering organised by a young lady by the name of Nadia. Nadia was a recipient of my Karawatha community award two years in a row when I had the good fortune of being the local Councillor for the Karawatha Ward, and she was a school captain at ICB and was also on the Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.
With less than 24 hours’ notice, Nadia had created a Facebook page community group and organised a prayer meeting which then took place at the ICB on Sunday. Councillor OWEN, yourself as Chair and the Councillor for Calamvale, and myself were both in attendance along with some many hundreds of people—some say 1,000, some say 3,000. I have no idea. The LORD MAYOR spoke very eloquently on behalf of the residents of Brisbane, and I’m extremely grateful that he was able to attend that event on behalf of all of us.
I’d have to say that every person that attended the event would have to be pretty hard-hearted not to be moved by the proceedings. At one point the leaders of every faith stood on the stage for a minute’s silence. There was a large contingent of New Zealanders there, and they performed for the traditional haka. I’m sure many people in this place have seen a haka, either at a sporting event or on TV. I myself have witnessed many. They occur at weddings, 21st and any other large gathering or events of joy.
However, Sunday’s performance sent a chill down everybody’s spine. It was particularly moving because it was so emotional and it was for such a sad reason. They then spontaneously burst into song and sang How Great Thou Art in Maori. At the end of the event, many of the people actually did not want to leave the event and stayed on for some time afterwards at ICB.
As the Councillor for the Runcorn Ward, I have a large Muslim community that live in Kuraby, and it was heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time. I had a number of residents contact me privately via Facebook wanting to go but were concerned about their safety and security. I assured them that, with the Premier, the Commissioner of Police, the LORD MAYOR and everybody else there, there would be no other safe place to be in Brisbane than at the ICB on Sunday. The lady who asked me then contacted me afterwards and said she was very, very grateful and grateful that she had decided to attend.
It was a hot day, but they didn’t put the air con on because they had to keep the doors open because there was so many people outside. I spoke privately to Nadia after the event and congratulated her and said that she had done an extremely well done job. She had managed to get so many people there at such short notice, and I am aware that there is another prayer meeting being held at Logan tomorrow afternoon.
So, Madam Chair, can I close by saying: kia kaha te kaha o oku whanau – stay strong, my families. Thank you.