Page 358 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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children of their own volition made generous contributions. I was taken by the manner in which this event moved even them. This motion is to be commended.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra): Members have spoken at length today about the incomprehensible nature of this dreadful catastrophe. I commend the Chief Minister for moving this motion today and I echo the commendation of Mr Mulcahy for the generosity of the ACT government in its donation. I also commend the people of the ACT and, beyond that, the people of Australia, for their unprecedented generosity in the face of an unprecedented natural disaster. After the original news broke, and the enormity of the disaster became obvious to all of us across the world, a constant message throughout the recovery is that nothing people saw on the television or read in the newspapers could prepare them for the devastation on the ground. We have heard that from our own ACT citizens who have gone as part of aid teams to many of the countries involved. Those comments were reflected by Mr Kofi Annan, by Colin Powell and by our own Prime Minister, who said that none of the briefings, none of what they saw could prepare them for the extent and the horror of the disaster. The other day a RAAF pilot said he flies into Banda Aceh every day and it does not get any better. Its impact does not change.

As the cliché goes, every cloud has a silver lining. As the Chief Minister said, the importance of this event is that we start to value our shared community across the world. I think they were the words he used. We take heart from the qualities being shown by people in all walks of life, in every country around the world that has been touched directly or indirectly. Whether it just be by the footage on the evening news, every person in the world in some way has been touched by this. In addition to helping in the long term, that 10-year or 20-year process that is going to be necessary to help these areas recover, we need to bottle and distil those high human qualities that have been expressed across the world.

There is always the low side, and we have seen it here as well. We have seen concerns around the world that the children, the most vulnerable in this dreadful disaster, might be preyed upon by traffickers and people who are interested in them only for sex or exploitation of some kind. We need to keep that in perspective, and we need to ensure that we are doing our utmost on an ongoing basis to ensure that the people of the region affected by the tsunami have the opportunity to recover and find a better life, and we need to be particularly watchful over the children in the region.

I would reflect upon the comments of the Chief Minister about us valuing our shared community. They are very important words. The thing that I hope comes out of this is that we, as a community and as a world community, start to take more notice of those in need, those less fortunate than us. As Dr Foskey said, we in Australia and Canberra were looking at this through the glow of a successful Christmas well spent with our families. The enormity of what has happened has come home to us as a stark contrast to the way the average Canberran spent Christmas. I hope that having this depth of human suffering in our living rooms over an extended time makes us more aware that there are disasters in the world.

This was a huge natural disaster that happened in a matter of seconds to a number of people but around the world every day disasters are happening that we have not been sufficiently attuned to. The Chief Minister alluded to famine, drought and disease. I hope

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