Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I seek leave to move a motion without notice to express sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course of action being followed? There is none.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY:
I move, That the House express sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting. This is a shocking atrocity, and on behalf of all New Zealanders, I would like to express our country’s sincere condolences to those affected by it.
As I said yesterday, no innocent person should have to worry about such violence when going about their daily lives or be persecuted for their beliefs or because of who they are.
The evening vigils that took place in Auckland, Wellington, and elsewhere were a tangible demonstration of the depth of people’s very real feelings at the scale of this atrocity.
Over the days and weeks ahead, we will learn more about the motivations behind this senseless tragedy, but right now there are many people grieving: the victims’ families and friends, and the gay and lesbian community in Florida and around the world.
All too often we see these hateful attacks and mass shootings taking the lives of innocent victims. New Zealand stands with the United States and other countries in the fight against violent extremism.
Yesterday I wrote to President Obama to express condolences on behalf of all New Zealanders.
Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends, and with those who responded to this tragic attack, and we wish those injured a speedy recovery.
ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition):
The Labour Party joins with the Government in expressing its horror at this atrocity and its love and sympathy with the victims and their families. Our thoughts are with the people of Orlando and the United States, as well as their representatives here in New Zealand.
This was an atrocious and hateful act. It was an act of terror. It was also an act of hate. It was a targeted attack at the LGBTI community. It was the deliberate mass-murder of LGBTI people because of who they were and whom they loved.
These young people were attacked and murdered in a place that was meant to be safe for them. It was meant to be a haven where they could go to dance and have fun and be themselves. This was a place where they would not be subject to homophobia or violence or hatred. And in that place, in that sanctuary, they were murdered in cold blood.
Like millions of people around the word, we have all seen the heart-breaking details of what emerged about this shooting. The stories of first responders arriving at the scene to a chorus of ringing cellphones, as the families of those hurt and killed desperately tried to contact their loved ones.
The story of Eddie Justice, who was able to hide in the bathroom of the nightclub long enough to send his mother a text telling her that he loved her and whose mother then had to read the horrifying words: “He’s coming. I’m going to die.”
This attack has broken hearts around the world, but while we mourn and grieve, we must also rededicate ourselves to the great universal values of humanity, which attacks like this seek to deny and destroy: inclusion, openness, respect, love.
We must reaffirm our commitment to a society where everyone is free to love whom they choose, worship how they choose, and to be themselves without fear of violence or repression.
We must reaffirm our commitment to ending bigotry and intolerance and hatred wherever we find it, because that is what the path of true freedom demands.
While we grieve and we mourn, we remind ourselves that love is love and that love is stronger than hate, and that together we will not let hate win.
KEVIN HAGUE (Green):
I rise to support the Prime Minister’s motion and to thank him for it. The Green Party wishes to express its profound shock and sorrow at what has occurred, and its sympathies to the victims themselves, to their families, to their friends, and to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities in Orlando and around the world.
An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. I want to name this as an act of homophobic violence.
For those of us who are in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities, we know that just below the level of taunts and name-calling and subtle prejudice, there is an undercurrent of violence.
In this particular case, in Orlando, America’s absurd gun laws have been a unique enabler for the mass murder that has occurred. But New Zealand also has a history of homophobic violence; one thinks, for example, of Jeff Whittington , who just over 17 years ago was murdered in this town.
It should not be that when I and my partner or any from our communities are out in public, we should have to check who is around before we kiss or hold hands, and yet it is so.
At this time I want to ask everyone in this House and everyone listening to this debate now to pay particular attention to the needs of young and vulnerable members of our communities.
For older members of the gay community, for example, like me, we have the privilege of being able to choose whom we associate with. We have the relative privilege of being able to make ourselves as safe as we can be.
But a younger person does not have that privilege. They are particularly vulnerable; they need our support and they need our love, right now.
I also want to extend a hand of friendship and of love to Muslim communities around the world. We understand that what this man did is not representative of your communities, and we seek relationships that are based on peace and mutual respect.
A belief that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people are not entitled to what we call universal human rights, or, worse, a belief that we deserve death for being who we are, cannot be allowed to stand in the world.
In closing, we in the Green Party and, I hope, this House commit ourselves to act against homophobia and homophobic violence and, indeed, transphobic violence, wherever it occurs in the world, and we seek to be a constant voice in the world for universal respect for basic human rights. Thank you.
Peters’ speech was widely regarded as highly inappropriate and disgraceful, so the transcript won’t be posted.
He devoted most of his speech ignoring Orlando and trying to score political points on New Zealand immigration. About two MPs slow clapped his speech, it looks like he stunned or embarrassed even the NZ First MPs.
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Co-Leader—Māori Party):
No transcript has been supplied by Parliament for Flavell’s speech.
Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future):
No words, no spin, and no gloss can carry over the events that occurred in Orlando yesterday. The slaughter of nearly 50 innocent people is unacceptable by any moral or ethical standard.
Equally unacceptable, I think, is the sort of intolerance and the bigotry—because that is what it is—that gets paraded at a time like this as people start to attempt to explain these unacceptable actions.
I believe that bigotry begets bigotry, and that in turn begets the type of extremism that we saw exemplified in Orlando yesterday.
This is not an issue where one makes a moral judgment about anybody. The fact is that these young gay and lesbian people were out socialising, something they should have been able to do in perfect freedom, in perfect security, and in perfect confidence.
A madman—because that is the one thing that is certain about the perpetrator—cruelly ended that, and the questions will go on for some time as to why and how.
There will be questions about the United States’ attitude to the possession of handguns. There will be questions about the motivation of the individual. None of those actually remove the tragedy of what happened. None of those restore any of those lives, rebuild any of those families or those friendships, or rebuild those shattered communities.
We are a long way away, and I am sure that the people of the United States are not sitting by their televisions now hanging on our every words, but our expression of sympathy and solidarity with them at this time of grief counts in that it shows that as members of the world community we actually share some basic values about integrity, we share some basic values about freedom, and we share some basic values about people being able to live their lives and express their personalities to the fullest extent.
Every time we see an event like this it is a challenge to all of those values that we hold dear, even if we may not be immediately near the scene of the crime.
So I share with others the sense of outrage and the expression of condolence and sympathy to the people of the United States, and Orlando in particular, on this horrific occasion. But to start to go beyond that to draw spurious conclusions at this early stage I simply think starts to light the fuse for the next horrible outrage, and that is unacceptable.
DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):
I would like to add the ACT Party’s sympathy and condolences to those messages from other leaders who have made dignified and factual contributions to this debate.
It is a great tragedy, and our thoughts are with the victims, with their families, with their communities, and particularly with the LGBTI communities of Orlando, who appear to have been deliberately targeted.
Let us remain strong in the knowledge that free and open societies have the resilience to sustain these tragedies to support each other and to grow stronger again together. Thank you.