Page 1 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 8 February 2022

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Tuesday, 8 February 2022

MADAM SPEAKER (Ms Burch) (10.00): Members:

Dhawura nguna, dhawura Ngunnawal.

Yanggu ngalawiri, dhunimanyin Ngunnawalwari dhawurawari.

Nginggada Dindi dhawura Ngunnaawalbun yindjumaralidjinyin.

The words I have just spoken are in the language of the traditional custodians and translate to:

This is Ngunnawal country.

Today we are gathering on Ngunnawal country.

We always pay respect to Elders, female and male, and Ngunnawal country.

Members, I ask you to stand in silence and pray or reflect on our responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Tonga—natural disaster

Statement by Speaker

MADAM SPEAKER: Members, before we begin, I would like to acknowledge the recent events that have occurred in the Kingdom of Tonga. On 15 January, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, which is 65 kilometres north of the capital, erupted, raining ash and debris across much of the kingdom. Described as a once-in-a-thousand-years event, it was the world’s largest recorded volcanic eruption in 30 years. The heavy ashfall that followed polluted much of Tonga’s freshwater supplies.

The eruption also generated a tsunami which radiated across the Pacific Ocean. Tonga bore the brunt of this, with the largest waves estimated to be 15 metres high. The waves caused widespread damage and claimed five lives: three in Tonga and two in Peru, 10½ thousand kilometres away. On top of this, Tonga experienced its first community case of COVID-19 last week.

The kingdom’s parliament and our Assembly share a common bond built through the presiding officers and clerks conferences and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and its small branches group. I wrote to the Tongan Speaker in the days after the eruption to share words of comfort with him and the members of his parliament on behalf of our Assembly.

It is indeed hard to watch this unfold from afar. No-one would know this better than the proud Tongan community which calls the Canberra region home, and a community of which one of our number, Mrs Kikkert, is part. Some may still be waiting for news of loved ones back home. Members, I hope that you join me in wishing our Tongan community and the people of the Kingdom of Tonga resilience and strength as they together face this uncertain future.

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