On behalf of the people of my electorate, I would like to pass on our condolences to the families and the friends of the 298 people that were murdered in the skies above Ukraine in July this year, when Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot out of the sky.
One of those families lives in my electorate. They are the Oreshkins.
On that plane was their son Victor. He was 29 years old.
He was a devout Christian; he went to Regents Park Christian School, and he was a volunteer at Lidcombe’s Slavic Evangelical Pentecostal Church.
His job there was to set up the microphones and put the heaters on in winter.
A few months ago, he went on a trip to Europe and it was a pilgrimage for him. He crisscrossed the continent to learn more about his faith. He went everywhere from Italy to Germany to Lithuania.
I did not know Victor Oreshkin, but I wish I did. It would have been a privilege to know him.
I am privileged to know his mum and dad, Serge and Vera, and his brothers and sisters. They are the most wonderful, beautiful people that you could ever meet.
Like 297 other families, they are also the victims of this monstrous crime. They live in a nightmare that they cannot wake up from.
I have had a few chats with Victor’s mum and dad in the past few weeks, and my wife and I have been privileged to be invited into their home.
When we were there we saw a loving family, a house filled with family and friends, and 10 very loud and affectionate grandchildren.
Serge tells me that they melt his heart.
Victor’s suitcase, apparently, was half full of gifts for these beautiful little children.
Gifts can be replaced, but Victor cannot. Like the 297 other people on MH17 he is irreplaceable. He was Serge and Vera’s gift. He has left a void in their hearts that they can never fill.
He was, Serge tells me, his best friend. He tells me that they destroyed Victor’s body, but they cannot take his soul; it never touched the ground.
This is just one story that is being repeated right across the country and right around the world.
I hope it gives members a little bit of an insight into the sort of people that we have lost and the people that are left behind.
I also think that it is important to tell the parliament that, in the midst of all of their terrible grief, Serge also told me that he was thinking about Rin Norris and Anthony Maslin—they live on the other side of the country in Perth; on MH17 were their three children, Mo, Evie and Otis.
In the midst of all his pain, Serge was also thinking about those three little children and their grief-stricken mum and dad.
He told me that he wanted to reach out and wrap his arms around them.
That’s the sort of people that the Oreshkins are, and the sort of person that Victor was.
Victor was coming home on MH17 to start a bible studies course the following week.
He is still not home. That is all, now, that Serge and Vera and the whole family want.
They just want Victor home.
I know that that is what the Prime Minister, the Government, the Australian Federal Police and the Netherlands Government are all working to do.
On behalf of Serge and Vera Oreshkin and their whole family, and the people of my electorate, I thank them for the work they are doing.