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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 57 ..

Condolence motions

Bushfire victims

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) I move:

That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the deaths of Mrs Alison Tener, Mr Peter Brooke, Mr Doug Fraser and another person whose name has not been released, who died in the Canberra bushfires on 18 January 2003 and tenders its deepest sympathy to their families and friends in their bereavement.

The Canberra bushfires struck our community in a savage and horribly unexpected way. There are very few of us who were not affected in some way, but none of us has suffered more than the families and friends of the four Canberrans who were killed.

Mr Speaker, 474 homes were destroyed in the fires, but homes can be rebuilt. About 99 per cent of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadji National Park was decimated, but the bush will regrow. Yet nothing can replace the four Canberrans who died.

At the time of her death, Mrs Alison Tener was 37 years old. A devoted mother of two teenage sons, Mrs Tener has been praised by neighbours and family members for the pivotal role she had in her family and with her close friends. She dedicated herself generously, without question, to those who needed her. That she should be remembered so lovingly is a tribute to the caring qualities she lavished on those around her, welcoming people and generously giving to her community. Mrs Tener was an example of how one person can make a difference in a quiet yet intensely meaningful way, and I wish Mr Tener and her sons all the best for the future.

Peter Brooke also died in the bushfires, at his son's home in Duffy. Neighbours from a nearby home, which was unscathed, have reflected on the hand of fate that struck him and left them safe. His neighbours, like all Canberrans, feel keenly for their neighbours, and pay their respects to a man they did not know particularly well.

Doug Fraser's last months were probably amongst the happiest of his life. In addition to indulging in one of his passions, flying, he had the joy of seeing his family grow as more grandchildren were born and on the way. Mr Fraser impressed many with his love of nature and left a lasting memory as a person deeply committed to the bush and its inhabitants. He was known far and wide throughout the Weston Creek community, a community of which he was a part for many years.

The family of the fourth victim of the fires has asked that we do not release her name. I know, however, that she will be greatly missed by her family and friends.

I hope it can be of some comfort to the friends and families of the four Canberrans who died to know that the entire Canberra community is grieving with them. Canberra is a small and close-knit community and every loss is felt keenly. I would like the Assembly to join me in recording this motion which states and acknowledges something that we all know, that the death of any of its citizens is the greatest loss that any community can suffer.

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