The Labor leader choked back tears in parliament while speaking about a heartbreaking scourge.
CONTENT WARNING: This story contains mention of child abuse.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese has choked back tears while delivering a speech about child exploitation in Australia.
Mr Albanese addressed parliament on the eve of the 17th Day for Daniel, Australia’s largest national child safety education and awareness day.
The event was created in memory of Daniel Morcombe, the 13-year-old boy who was abducted from the Sunshine Coast in 2003.
Daniel’s disappearance shocked the nation but it was not until 2011 that his remains were found and his killer, Brett Peter Cowan, was arrested.
The Labor leader expressed his sorrow and admiration for the Australian parents who had lost their children to acts of child exploitation.
“They (Daniel’s parents) have taken what is a devastating personal tragedy and turned it into a lifelong commitment to help others, and they deserve our absolute praise and thanks,” he said.
“Child safety is an issue that is well above politics. The idea that you would go through that experience on a personal level is one that is just extraordinary.”
Mr Albanese choked back tears as he spoke about his own son, Nathan.
“I’m looking forward to travelling home and seeing my son,” he said.
The emotional Labor leader then turned to the case of Cleo Smith.
The four-year-old from Western Australia has been missing for 12 days and police believe she has probably been abducted.
Mr Albanese said he shared in Australians’ collective anguish about the wellbeing and safety of the missing preschooler.
“Australians are really worried about young Cleo … we just hope that that ends well,” he said.
“I think it’s fair to say on behalf of all the parliament, we hope that by the time we return, we can actually have a discussion here which is a happy one.”
Mr Albanese encouraged Australians to participate in the Day for Daniel activities on Friday by wearing red, spreading awareness about child exploitation issues and donating to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.
“The theme is wear red, educate and donate,” the Day for Daniel website reads.
“Parents, carers and educators are encouraged to start a conversation with children and young people about personal safety. “