Page 349 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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Tuesday, 15 February 2005

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am, made a formal recognition that the Assembly was meeting on the lands of the traditional owners, and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Indian Ocean tsunami

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs): I move:

That this Assembly expresses its profound sorrow at the devastating loss of life in the Boxing Day tsunami in Asia and tenders its heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of the many thousands of victims of this tragedy.

Since this Assembly last met our world has once again witnessed a disaster of massive proportions. This time, the disaster was not man-made but its impact was unprecedented in scale and destruction. When the first reports trickled through of a huge and terrifying wave sweeping across the Indian Ocean, the outside world had no idea of the true havoc wreaked by the wall of water. It was only as the hours and days passed that the magnitude of the earthquake and its resulting tsunami was truly realised. Even today, we are still learning about the scale of destruction. The overall impact was even more shaking and confronting as many of us were enjoying a traditional period of celebration around Christmas and the New Year. The region will never be the same again; neither will the communities affected by the tsunami.

On my behalf, on behalf of this Assembly and the people of the ACT, I express my deepest and sincere condolences to everyone who has been affected by this catastrophic event, including some members of our very own community. With the death toll now standing at 295,000 and with so many left without homes or livelihoods, the effect of this disaster is too great for many of us to comprehend. Canberra is home to a number of Sri Lankan, Indian, Thai and Indonesian people, and others whose countries have been affected. To you I express our deep sadness for the loss of your people and the destruction of your traditional homelands and your community. Although the thought will do little to ease the grief of those who have lost so much, the tsunami disaster has also united the world in a positive way. I hope the international response to this tsunami will refocus the world’s attention on the importance and value of our shared community.

The Australian government deserves to be commended for its prompt and generous response to this tragedy and the Australian community can take pride in the fact that as a nation we donated more for relief than any other nation. We in the ACT can be proud that we have taken such a proactive role in assisting the relief effort. Within a few days of the disaster the ACT government, led by Acting Chief Minister Ted Quinlan, convened the ACT Emergency Management Committee, chaired by Emergency Services Authority Commissioner Peter Dunn, and began planning the territory’s response. Options were put to the commonwealth government, which included offers of assistance from the ESA, ACT Health and ACT Recovery.

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