What they said about Port Arthur


“There’s a lot of WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) around today, there’s not many Japs here, are there?” – What witnesses report Martin Bryant to have said at lunch before he opened fire on the cafe

“I just lay there and all I could hear was the gun and screaming.


The only thing that went through my head was ‘the next one’s for me’.” – Survivor

“He wasn’t going bang bang bang bang – it was bang and then he’d pick someone else out and line them up and shoot them. It was a gun that was meant to kill people.” – Witness

“I went to war for a day.” – Bryan Walpole, a doctor who treated the victims of the massacre.

“He didn’t give himself up, he came out because the house was on fire.” – Tasmanian policeman on Bryant’s capture.

“All I wanted was for people to like me.” – Martin Bryant

“My power, so powerful … and the guns and these magazines filled with bullets. I could just go bang, bang, bang.” – Bryant’s words from the trial

“It was just in my mind to go down and kill the Martins and kill a lot of people.” – Bryant’s comments to a psychiatrist before the trial

“I have not struck an event in my 22 years in politics which has shaken the country to its core, not a domestic incident.” – Prime Minister John Howard

“As I lay in bed last night … I was aware that other people were also lying awake.” – Tasmanian Greens leader Christine Milne in parliament after the killings

“It will take a massacre in Tasmania before we get gun law reform in Australia.” – Former NSW Premier Barrie Unsworth’s chillingly prescient prediction in 1987 after first attempts at uniform gun laws failed.

“I decided when I went to Port Arthur with Kim Beazley and Cheryl Kernot two days after the tragedy – I decided on the way back from that visit – that I would try and get national uniform gun laws in this country.” – Howard

“Once given up, freedom can only be bought back with blood.” – Pro-gun activist Ian McNiven addressing a rally of gunowners.

“I felt I owed that to the people who died, I felt I owed it to the Australian community to use the authority of my office despite the objections I knew would come from some of my colleagues in some of the states.” – Howard

“Having regard to the nature and extent of his conduct, I cannot regard it as anything other than falling within the worst category of cases for which the maximum penalty is prescribed.” – Bryant’s sentencing judge, Judge William Cox.

“I don’t think you could really call him a human being.” – Walter Mikac, whose wife and two daughters were hunted down by Bryant.

“I wear a scar for this place and there is a big scab on it and every so often that scab might get kicked, but I carry a scar and I know I’ll carry it the rest of my life.” – Keith Moulton, who lost his daughter and two grandchildren, speaking on the 10th anniversary of the massacre.

“Few Australians would deny that their country is safer today as a consequence of gun control.” – Howard in 2013