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In Times of Crisis, who are our True Leaders?

Yesterday, a heartbreaking tragedy occurred in the centre of Melbourne. Four people are dead including a young child. In times of crisis and tragedy, it is important to reflect on how our leaders respond.

Why are the Words of our Leaders Important?

It is important to reflect on the words of those who seek high office and those who eek to represent the people.

Their words can either unify us in strength and respond with solutions that will protect us from greater harm, or they can divide us and offer us non-practical knee jerk reactions.

The words of leaders should console us and give us the strength to carry on. Their words should respect the lives lost and those who are injured.

These words should pay tribute to those who selflessly put their own lives in danger, whether it is emergency services or volunteers at the scene.

Our leaders should respond with genuine empathy, seriousness and concern. Their first concern should always be about the people.

The public and of course other leaders should outright condemn politicians who make a tragedy all about themselves or their agenda.

I will leave the responses from our various leaders and politicians below for the readers to judge.

Malcolm Turnbull – Liberal Leader. Prime Minister of Australia

The prayers and heartfelt sympathies of all Australians are with the victims and the families of the victims of this shocking crime in Melbourne today. And we thank and acknowledge the heroism, the professionalism of the police and the emergency workers who rushed to the aid of the victims, joined by bystanders who mindless of their own danger sought to help those who had been attacked in this shocking crime. Their love, their selflessness, their courage, is the very best of our Australian spirit.

Bill Shorten – Leader of the Labor Party. Leader of the Opposition

All Australians stand with the people of Melbourne in this horrific moment.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the lost.

We pray for the injured and the frightened, in particular the very young children.

We pay tribute to the first responders. We give thanks for the bravery of the police, the speed of the paramedics and the skill of those who’ve worked to save the lives of the injured.

We salute those passers-by who rushed to the aid of their neighbours.

But we also know that on dark days like this, words are so inadequate.

Words can’t capture the horror we feel. Words can’t comfort those who’ve lost someone they love. Words won’t heal people who’ve been hurt or banish the fear. Words can’t put back the lives stolen in a few minutes of madness.

It’s difficult for all of us to comprehend how, why and what has happened. Harder still to understand that it happened here, in a country and a city that prides itself on being such a welcoming, safe and peaceful place.

Victoria Police have made it clear this was not an act of terror, it was an act of murder. A cowardly, senseless, destructive crime that has claimed the lives of innocent people.

We wait for answers, we wait for justice and tonight we hold all those in sadness and pain, close to our hearts.

People who are concerned about loved ones can call the helpline on 1800 727 077.

Daniel Andrews – Premier of Victoria. Leader of Victorian Labor Party.

Our hearts are breaking this afternoon.

People have died in the heart of our city.

Others are seriously injured. Young and old. And all of them were innocent.

All of them were just going about their day, like you or I.

Some families are just starting to find out the news about their loved ones, and right now, our thoughts are with each and every one of them.

I’m so proud of all the Victorians who reached out and provided care and support to strangers today.

I’m so thankful for all our police, paramedics and emergency services workers who launched into action, and will now be working around the clock.

And I hope that everyone can be patient and cooperative, so we can let these professionals do their job.

This was a terrible crime – a senseless, evil act – and justice will be done.

Richard DiNatale – Leader of the Australian Greens

My heart goes out to everyone affected by the horrible scenes we’ve seen in Melbourne’s CBD today.

Adam Bandt – Australian Greens. Member for Melbourne.

I’ve stood on those Bourke Street corners many times, including with kids. My heart goes out to everyone suffering today. Big thanks to emergency service workers, especially those trying hard tonight to save lives.

Pauline Hanson – Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party

I have just been told that there has been a terrorism attack in Melbourne.

People don’t look right. That they are not going to assimilate into our society, have a different ideology, different beliefs, don’t abide by our laws, our culture, our way of life, don’t let them in. Make this country safer for future generations.

All terrorist attacks in this country have been by Muslims. (Journalist: No they haven’t).

It is up to us to accept, revere, reject, condemn & shame

Australia is not immune to tragedy. Our tragedies are from the actions of other human beings or forced upon us by nature with fires, floods and cyclones.

Regardless of our politics, we should always seek to reject those who do not put others first. This is an automatic indicator that the inherent requirement to represent others is simply not a driver for that person and their motivations for public office are disingenuous and self-serving.

It is up to us to accept and revere Leaders who stand with us, comfort us and guide us in times of tragedy. Our existence as human beings, as community members, as families and as individuals is above all else.

It is up to us to reject, condemn and shame those who are not genuine in their desire to serve the people. It is up to us to demand that the media and other leaders do the same. However, trusted and true Leaders should need no encouragement from the people to do so.

A Very Stark and Dark Contrast

There is a very stark and dark contrast between the words of Pauline Hanson today and that of other prominent leaders. As someone who the media promotes as a potential next Prime Minister; it is really important to frame Hanson’s words as the central to her motivations in public life.

Will the media continue to give a free rein and a supportive kid-glove approach to someone who believes they ‘say what Australians are thinking’ yet puts herself before others, even in times of devastating tragedy?

Well Pauline, yesterday Australians were thinking about the lives lost, the people injured and those who were left terrified and the work of our emergency services and volunteers. Australians were not thinking about where your next vote will come from.

The media is constantly giving the Pauline Hanson One Nation Party an absolute gamut of free advertising and promotion in the media, through their reporting, radio and TV shows. The media should take responsibility and cease this free promotion of this self-serving right-wing nationalist immediately. They are not oblivious to the power of influence they hold over the voting public.

Clearly, the contrast is in the video of this interview, where Hanson actually smirks as she turns away from James Ashby back to the media, before she went into her tirade about blaming terrorism and Muslims for this absolutely devastating tragedy.


Zero Compassion

Not once did she show empathy, compassion, concern or horror at what had occurred. Not once did she want to know more. The scale of the attack. How many injured. Was there still a threat?

Instead, Hanson smirked, turned to face the media and with smug satisfaction she announced there had been a terrorist attack in Melbourne. Hanson used the death of others and the serious injuries of others to promote her populist ideology.

Considering Populism is the stark contrast between the corrupt elite and the will of the people; for Hanson to completely exclude any concern for the people from her rant, really reeks of blatant hypocrisy. It is time to put Australia first and reject this charlatan.

Clearly Hanson is all about the conversion of votes into cash and the luxury the power that public office brings, because clearly, no one but herself was her concern today.

Imagine Hanson leading the country in a time of war? No thanks.

It no longer saddens me that Hanson’s popularity is increasing. It absolutely distresses me.

The Media need to take some Responsibility

The media is a very, very powerful being and it can and does shape the minds of the voting public. They media are very aware of their own influence. It is time the media took some responsibility for their role in the promotion of politicians.

We can no longer afford to stand by and to continue to allow the media to promote politicians who are disingenuous and self-serving and this is always very evident in times of crisis and tragedy. I thank the media who have called her actions out.

Let’s hope Channel Seven responds with a blanket ban.

Our country and our people are too precious to waste our faith in those who do not stand with us, but stand for themselves.

I know along with everyone reading this, my heart goes out to the people who have lost their lives and were injured yesterday and also to their families.

I would like to end this article by directing readers to another very good article on this topic by Jennifer Wilson: Giving a Damn Still Matters.

Indeed it does. Let’s not lose that anymore than we already have.


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  1. townsvilleblog

    We have been fed such an amount of violent movies, computer games and the like from the good ole’ USA that it is no wonder that some of the sicko’s begin taking out their fury on innocent people, as was done in this instance, we must rekindle our Australian identity, how I’m not too sure!

  2. Keitha Granville

    It is my hope that every time she opens her mouth she puts another nail in the coffin of her party – just like last time. Yes, the media does give her vile rants a mouthpiece, but that just helps us to see what an appalling creature she is. The voters who believe as she does are few in number, and the others who voted for her last time and allowed dills like Roberts into the Senate will be realising they were conned.

    Eventually she will be alone in the Senate again, and then out.

  3. bobrafto

    Let’s hope Channel Seven responds with a blanket ban.

    She was and maybe still is on 7’s payroll.

  4. helvityni

    Pauline and her supporters must be most disappointed that the Melbourne tragedy was caused by an Australian, by a young man with mental health problems, and NOT by a Muslim terrorist. Sad, whatever way you look at it.

  5. Deanna Jones

    I wouldn’t be so quick to assume mental health had anything to do with this. He was allegedly known to police for family violence. Angry violent men are capable of violence regardless of whether mental illness, or drug use are factors.

  6. Ella Miller

    I still have tears of shame and sorrow at the responses to the tragedy that is Melbourne.
    I feel shame that I can call another human being a VIRUS. A dangerous one at that, because she is the voice of a part of Australia that, like a VIRUS we should not accept as normal.
    I hope that those in the One Nation Party who feel as much shame as I do will abandon her in droves.
    Or are they as self serving as she is?

    AS for the media if they felt any sense of responsibility towards the social cohesion in our nation ( which they should…but I guess money talks and the dog barks)
    they should now come out and condemn her comments and those of Dvid L.

  7. crypt0

    Just prior to this tragedy taking place in Bourke St., police were moving on various homeless people, (arresting some I am told), who were doing no harm. Just trying to stay alive.
    At the behest of lard mayor Doyle obviously.
    The only ones who seemed unaffected by all this activity were the rough sleepers along Flinders St station, who were purportedly the target of the move on drive.
    What’s the plan ? … put the homeless in prison for failing to pay fines while violent offenders such as the Bourke St “suspect” are out on bail because the jails are full ?
    Some plan.

  8. helvityni

    I don’t think anyone here invented his mental health issues, we were told so by the police, it was in the news.

  9. Trish Corry

    Deanna, that depends whether conscious behaviour, with rational judgement is the driver for the violence, or whether the violence follows due to a mental health issue. It is not always a conscious action by someone of rational and sound mind.

    The man’s Facebook rants are how someone who is having a psychotic or manic episode talks or writes. (He believes he is chosen as the true God and other stuff about Meteors). His writings were not of someone who is well. Psychosis or mania can be brought on by mental illness or drug induced. We should be questioning why he was not receiving treatment or in care, or custody of some sort, if he has had an ongoing problem with mental health, drugs and violence.

    Regardless, innocent lives were lost. It is unacceptable. We should have comfort that there is a system that will protect us. Be it, Mental illness, drugs or other criminal activity. These people should have been alive today.

    He had stabbed someone the night before, was doing burnouts in the middle of town earlier and he had a history with the police. Yet, pensioners and the unemployed who “owe” Centrelink money are threatened with Jail and the newspaper referred to homeless people in the same town as ‘taking out the rubbish’ and the council is going to make sleeping in the CBD illegal.

    We have a problem.

  10. Miriam English

    Thank you Trish. Every word on point. I couldn’t agree more.

  11. Steve Laing -

    The mental wellbeing of the perpetrator is not the issue here. It is the response of politicians that is.

    Pauline WANTED it to be a terrorist attack. This simply follows the ways of Howard and Abbott who I believe actively court terrorism in order to help press their case for heightened security and immigration controls, not because they actually really care about these issues, but simply because it gets them more votes and helps keeps their side of politics in power.

    This is how low our politics has stooped. Our government is quite prepared to waste billions of dollars on offshore concentration camps and obsolete submarines in order to garner votes. It really is that simple. And they do so by playing on people’s fear.

    And Channel 7 will keep playing her as long as it gets watchers. If we want to stop Channel 7 from showing her in the completely unbalanced way that they do, the only way to do so is by voicing displeasure with the businesses that advertise during those programs.

  12. Athena

    Don’t forget Hanson also said she would recant her deplorable comments if it later turned out that Muslims were not to blame for the incident. So slander away because if you recant later it doesn’t count. Someone needs to sue that hag to within an inch of her life.

  13. kerri

    Good article Trish! I also noted Hanson’s “I am right” smirk after Ashby whispered in her ear.
    But the reporter who corrected her and potentially drove the harpie off as she refused to countenance being wrong, by stating that Jack Van Tongeren’s act of terrorism was not Muslim needs to be applauded and more need to follow her lead!
    Hanson has a serious lack of knowledge and way too high a regard for her opinions and generalisations and needs to be called out on every mistake she utters! It should not be difficult for the media to do this as her misguided utterances are fairly predictable.
    Surely the job of the press is to question politicians?
    Not just blindly parrot their utterances!

  14. Steve Laing -

    Kerri – excellent point. Who was the questioner, I wonder? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if journalists extended the same degree of interrogation with members of the government. Unfortunately when its them, the journo’s are remarkably quiet…

  15. Annie B

    townsvilleblog – (11.44 a.m. )

    I totally agree with you.

    A de-sensitisation has been established to blood shed, diabolic deeds, shoot-ups, gun rampage, negativism, and anything else that is anti-society … in the ‘goodies’ delivered by the U.S. of A. in 99% of its deliverances via TV sitcoms, TV series, downloadable games, reality shows and current affairs programmes. … And so many commercial delight in showing these inept and inane ghastlies on our own free-to-air – ( and paid for ) TV outlets, not to mention newscasts.

    So many of these ‘shows’ are shameful – and do indeed have an impact – on those who are so quickly affected by this stimulus.

  16. Wayne Turner

    What was said by all the leaders were good,except for that non-leader Pauline Hanson the bigot and moron who likes to scare other morons.

  17. Annie B

    Cannot stomach Hanson and her degenerate thinking, and opportunism when it comes to one of her narrow minded, knee jerk reactions – against all Muslims. … she should be somehow “sued within an inch of her life” as Athena said.

    However – – – while I do totally admire the Police in our State of Victoria ( and all States ) for the ghastly jobs they are called upon to do, and how well they usually do it … I cannot help but question, why – why – why please – something was not able to be done to block this maniac while he was doing burn-outs at one of the busiest intersections of Melbourne. It could have – should have, been done.

    No-one can tell me, or claim, that the communications network for the Police Force, suddenly broke down completely at this time. This creature had been chased ( and lost ) from several areas of suburban Melbourne – not an unusual occurrence in any suburban network. … But there was police presence so close by ( see below ) – so why the communication break-down ? … Plus roaming police cars surround the city and inner suburbs, continually.

    For those who do not know Melbourne – below is a textual ‘map’ ( if you like ) of the proximity of police to the actual burn-outs happening. This bloke did 6.5 full turn – burn-outs, taking 1.17 minutes to complete, before hurtling up Swanston St, to complete his carnage in the Bourke Street Mall.

    Melbourne East Police Station – in Flinders Lane – approx. 200 metres from the burn-outs conducted on the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street / St. Kilda Road … police cars are parked in Swanston Street, as they do not have enough room in little Flinders Lane.

    Plus a small police office on Flinders Street Station – on the St. Kilda Road side of the Station.

    Why was nothing scrambled ? A blockade of police cars should have been able to be deployed.

    What happened ( or didn’t happen ) there ? Enough police within a 200 metre vicinity to do something about that 1.17 minutes of burn-outs – considering their members knew ( or should have known ) that their comrades were chasing a maniac, for having stabbed one person in one suburb, chased down in another suburb from a call from a concerned person about his ravings about Armageddon, and then chased ( and lost ) from that point on – into the Flinders Street / Swanston Street intersection. Everything had stopped ( including 2 trams and all cars ) bar about 3 vehicles who ignored him and completed RH turns during his motorised rant at this intersection.

    Police – like all of us – can make mistakes. …. but this defies description.

    I would think there will be many many questions asked, before the enquiries into this, is over.

  18. paulwalter

    Absolutely no doubt, the cynicism, opportunism, crass insensitivity and barbarism of Leyonhjelm and the Hansonist is what really stands out to. Gargasoulas is young and may have head issues, but for older people, supposed leaders, to behave and speak in the way they have concerning the incident is disturbing.

  19. dragonnanny

    For Annie B: I don’t know a lot about police matters but I do know that the pursuit policy changed after a few deaths about 2 years ago, the police in charge didn’t authorise a pursuit to take place as part of the no-pursuit policy. That maybe reviewed in time because of this incident on Friday. The police would take into account safety issues as well as busy roads and pedestrians in Bourke St. If you want to know more about this for more accurate information Google might help. I think the police did a good job and put the full blame on the driver who was erratic and unpredictable. And I also would consider the Justice who gave him bail to appear in court on Friday has some soul searching to do……….this sort of thing is happening too often lately………..violent men on bail committing nasty crimes is not acceptable in my opinion. And Hanson and Leyonhjelm are a disgrace for their attitude, tweets and comments.

  20. Annie B

    dragonnanny …

    I had forgotten about the no-pursuit policy. And around the suburban areas there’d have been heaps of traffic making it dangerous to pursue him heavily.

    I still am surprised though, that they could not have rammed or blocked somehow – him heading off down some getaway, which would have only been Swanston Street – [ which he did ] – Flinders Street, east and west or St. Kilda Road which is the south extension of Swanston St while he was busy doing those burn-outs. . 99% of traffic had come to a standstill – and by that time, in that intersection, he was totally off his rocker. The close proximity of a police station made me feel somewhat uncomfortable about it. They ultimately shot him, and perhaps should have tried to do that in that intersection as he was half out of the car – a shot to maim, not to kill – but we will never know their protocols – what they can and can’t do.

    Also he could have ploughed into people in that Flinders St. intersection, with heaven only knows how many dead and injured, there. It must’ve been a somewhat impossible situation for the police at times.

    I did Google it actually, but there were only repeats of the same news, with little variance or detail.

    Ultimately – the police did do a good job, they usually do – and I have every respect for them. I don’t have too much respect for the legal fraternity who get these blokes off on bail, when they are obviously dangerous. The police opposed bail for that person, last time he was in court ( very recently ).

    Totally agree with your comments about those two imposters that call themselves politicians. Ghastly people.

  21. Deanna Jones

    Helvi, the police have yet to even interview him. Even it was their job, there hasn’t been time for any mental health assessment or to obtain any existing medical records. Police only like facts and they have said he is known to them for family violence. This tells me that there are AVOs and/or police event narratives alleging family violence, in their database. His partner/former partner (unclear), has now said that she has witnessed his violence and feared for her life. Sorry to go all forensic on you but this is all we know, and it’s likely going to explored in a court.

    Kaye, I took a look at his actual Facebook page (which was still public last night) and what I saw was a man who is very invested in the ideals of hyper-masculinity, and religion, who is or was very angry about something and making vague threats of some kind of revenge or retribution.

    Trish, I know when something like this happens it’s natural for people to want explanations, but I think it’s simplistic and even dangerous, in a big picture way, to immediately jump to a conclusion of mental illness. As a mental health-accredited social worker, I can speak to this with some authority, and I will now.

    The reason I say it’s simplistic is because it rationalises an act of violence and kind of let’s the perpetrator off the hook in some ways. It also erases other possible explanations and lenses through which we could analyse the violence. This is, in my view, dangerous thinking, if we agree, and I hope we do, that the male violence we already know about that exists on every rung of human society, must be addressed for the sake of all of us, not just women and children, but men too. Writing it off as mental illness will not allow us to address this problem, it will prevent us from ever addressing it. I have many years of experience working with people who have histories of violent behaviour, criminal justice involvement, mental illness, substance misuse problems etc. so maybe I just find it easier than some to believe that a sane person would do such a thing on purpose.

    The other concern I had with the knee jerk mental health speculation is the way this thinking contributes to the stigma and discrimination faced by people who do live with mental health issues. Most people with mental illness do not hurt other people. Most diagnoses made and prescriptions for medications written for mental illness are for women, yet these violent rampages are done by men. In this case, you could not rule out mental health as a factor, but In my opinion, the immediate speculation about it as an easy explanation, is part of the broader problem here.

    Here is a short TED Talk by Dr Jackson Katz, who is a violence prevention expert:

  22. Trish Corry

    Put it this way…. I will be extremely shocked if his writings on FB were from a rational clear mind and it has nothing to do with psychosis or mania. I have been involved with people with these illnesses and I’m speaking from experience with how he is writing being similar. That is all. The police did state he had a history of violence and mental illness and they knew him. Mental illness is not an excuse, if people are not well it explains why it happened. They are not themselves when they are not well. Some people can be violent without a mental illness yes, that is true. People who are suicidal are deeply depressed. We never refer to that as an excuse. It is the same if someone commits a crime. Sometimes they don’t even know. There is a good Louis Theroux Doco on this. Mental illness does not pick or choose by gender or social status. It is an illness like all illnesses. Women with psychosis can also be very violent. It is unfair to tip this on the side of men in my opinion. Some people with psychosis or mania never harm others at all. Regardless, people have been killed. The focus should be on the systems and we should let the professionals undertake their duties and we will know in due course. However I will always disagree mental illness is an excuse for crime. They have very reliable ways to test people these days and diagnose them.

  23. Deanna Jones

    Trish, you seem to have missed all of my points and I don’t intend to re -frame them all over and over. Your arguments about mental illness seem odd given my commentary about this issue.

    “It is unfair to tip this on the side of men in my opinion.”

    This seems to be your main problem with my comment. No. The evidence is well and truly in, and denying it is preventing us from addressing it which is the main point of my comment. If your main concern is about ‘fairness’ to men whatever that means, then remember that pandering to men and pretending we don’t see the violence, is NOT in the interests of men, given that they experience the majority of the violence.

  24. Egalitarian

    Bourke Street tragedy: Melbourne is shocked and broken, but the city will be the same again : John Silvestor

    Nothing like a jaded middle aged white male to roll out his article title above. John Silvester The people will decide how they feel. Though I feel you came out a little early with your insensitive controlling headline.

  25. Trish Corry

    Sorry, I have no idea what you are on about. My point was simply Mental illness does not discriminate by gender or social status. I have not read your comments through any lens of masculinity.

  26. Deanna Jones

    “Mental illness does not discriminate by gender or social status”

    I haven’t tried to argue that at all!

    “Sorry, I have no idea what you are on about.”

    I know.

  27. Trish Corry

    Hi Deanna my response was in your original comment where you said medication is made mainly for women but it’s men who commit the violence. I hope that clears up what I was responding to

  28. Deanna Jones

    I didn’t say it was made for them, I said most diagnoses made and prescriptions written are for women. This is just statistics. But now I’m doing what I said I wouldn’t do. Have a nice day.

  29. Trish Corry

    Thanks Deanna. You have a good day too. I’ve been off baking and now I’m eating my art!

  30. wam

    I am old fashioned enough to believe this was a deliberate act and no mitigating circumstances apply.

    Mr Laing,
    ch9 free murdoch access to the government and antilabor by choice
    ch7 little gov access, antilabor by force (to avoid the labor tag) access to hanson for ratings
    Bill needs advisers who can devise strategies to cause 7 and 9 to compete in the controversy stakes. Not an easy task.

  31. Sam

    Should we expect Hanson supporters commenting on this article shortly? Defending their queen, so to speak.

    I could swear the last aimn article I read involving her contained the highest amount of hard right trolls I’ve ever seen comment on an artilce on this site. It surprised me because it’s seems like it’s usually only 1 or 2 of them on here at best commenting on an article and that’s on a bad day.

    It kind of surprised me that’s all.

  32. Jexpat

    Sam wrote: “Should we expect Hanson supporters commenting on this article shortly?

    Why would they bother? Kevin Andrews has already co-opted the reactionary, tear the hair out response.

  33. Miriam English

    I think they only really come if she or her party are mentioned in the headline.

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