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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1156 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

We have learnt bits and pieces about the lives and achievements of many of these victims from the media. We have heard the grief and seen the pain of their families and friends. Survivors have recounted what they can remember from that dreadful day. We can only imagine the pain and shock they must feel. It will certainly take some time for them to feel safe again. The lives and stories, in particular, of the 35 victims who were gunned down should never be forgotten; as, indeed, they will not, judging by the overwhelming response to the tragedy from so many people from all over Australia and the world. That began with the hundreds of people who were involved in the rescue and emergency work at Port Arthur on Sunday, 28 April, and includes all the ambulance workers, the medical and hospital staff at Royal Hobart Hospital, helicopter pilots, police and army personnel, and the staff and visitors who were at Port Arthur on that day and who helped quite substantially. On Monday, 29 April, following a call from the Governor-General, Sir William Deane, to provide a spiritual focus for the nation's shock and grief, an ecumenical prayer service was held in Canberra at St Christopher's Cathedral at Manuka. I and other members of this Assembly attended that service, and prayers were offered for the victims, their families and friends and for all the people of Tasmania.

The Premier of Tasmania, Tony Rundle, announced the establishment of the Port Arthur Victims Appeal on Monday, 29 April, to provide financial support for those trying to come to grips with their grief and loss. The ACT Government has donated $20,000 to that fund on behalf of the people of the ACT, and I have also sent a letter to the Tasmanian Premier, on behalf of the people of the ACT and signed by all members here, expressing our sympathy to and support for the families and friends of people who were killed or wounded, and the people of Tasmania.

The memorial service held at St David's Cathedral on Wednesday, 1 May, saw the whole country trying to come to grips with the worst mass killing in recent times. In a very moving service, shared by some 700 people inside the cathedral, hundreds more outside and millions across Australia, the massive loss of life at Port Arthur was remembered with a minute's silence. Mr Speaker, you went to that service, representing this Assembly, and I am sure that everyone would thank you for that.

It is a tragic observation, but a true one, that adversity like this binds a community together. Less than two weeks after the Port Arthur tragedy we saw all Australian States and Territories agree to substantial and radical national reform of the ownership and usage of firearms. We have seen strength come from adversity through this quick action, just as we have in the way that communities have united to express their grief and sorrow, their shame and disbelief and their heartfelt support.

The massacre at Port Arthur has disturbed the sense of security that we have all taken for granted, but we can take heart from the very powerful effort that has occurred to make sense of what has happened and to find answers to the question that the loss of so many of these lives has raised. I am sure that members will agree that we must all try to act to prevent anything like this from ever happening again, and I am sure that all members will also join with me today in expressing our best wishes for the recovery of those who were injured and our most profound sympathy to the families and friends of those who died so tragically at Port Arthur. May the victims always rest in peace.

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