Page 350 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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A three-member medical assessment team from the Canberra Hospital flew to Thailand in the first week of the aftermath. The team of committed medical professionals checked all the Australian and New Zealand patients in Thai hospitals. It assessed the patients’ conditions and their care and the capability of the local hospital to treat the patients to the highest standard. ESA operational support staff member Pat Duggan was sent to Jakarta to work on planning and logistics under the guidance of the United Nations. A four-member team of structural engineers, co-ordinated by the ESA, has been to the Maldives to assess the safety of their schools. Two members of this team are ACT residents.

The outpouring of generosity from Canberrans was inspiring. Fundraising activities have been organised all over town and residents have opened their hearts and their wallets and donated to the many relief appeals being run by various charities. At our city’s New Year celebrations, Canberrans took the opportunity to donate more than $38,000. A large part of that funding was corporate donations. I thank all those ACT businesses that were so generous in making sizeable donations. The ACT government too, on behalf of the people of Canberra, donated $500,000 to the Red Cross appeal. The job of rehabilitating the affected areas, their people and their economies has only just begun. We cannot lose sight of the fact that this is a very long-term relief effort. The United Nations has predicted that it will take at least a decade for the affected communities to recover.

I hope that we do not lose sight of the qualities we have shown as human beings—our compassion, our kindness, our courage, our generosity of spirit and our solidarity. Disasters of this magnitude, thankfully, do not happen often, but across the world communities are regularly devastated by such scourges as famine, war, drought, and disease. Let us not forget that everywhere in the world there is pain, suffering and loss. Let us all help where we can. The positive action in the aftermath of this disaster has been one of the greatest examples of people power. United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in his opening statement to the special ASEAN leaders meeting in Indonesia on 6 January, said:

The past eleven days have been among the darkest in our lifetime. But they have also allowed us to see a new kind of light. We have seen the world coming together. We have seen a response based not on our differences, but on what unites us. We have seen an opportunity to heal old wounds and long-running conflicts. We have seen everyone pull together.

I hope the light Kofi Annan speaks of continues to burn bright.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition): On behalf of the opposition, I also join in this motion. I thank the Chief Minister for moving it, to acknowledge the almost 300,000 citizens of the world who died as a result of the tsunami and earthquake on 26 December last year. When you read through the list of the countries affected, and the death toll, it is probably incomprehensible that a country like Indonesia can lose more than 235,000 people, Sri Lanka more than 30,000, India more than 16,000 and Thailand more than 5,000. Countries like the Maldives lost 82, Malaysia 68, Myanmar 61, Bangladesh two citizens, Somalia 298, Tanzania 10, and Kenya one. Of course, there were also the visitors, the non-locals, who were there from countries as diverse as Sweden to Ireland. No part of the world has not been affected by this tragedy. Indeed,

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