Page 360 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005

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It is worth noting again at this point that Australia’s commitment of $1 billion over five years to the Australia-Indonesia partnership for reconstruction and development is the largest single aid package in Australia’s history. So, we can all be very proud of the fact that we have done what we can. We may not be over there on the streets of Banda Aceh or wherever, but we can still continue to support and give. Mr Quinlan spoke of frustration amongst us because we feel we should be doing more. Dr Foskey talked of feeling guilty. Obviously these emotions are quite natural human feelings. We all have an opportunity to continue to give financial aid, as Mrs Dunne said. Most of the bigger supermarkets have little pots. Just put in whatever you can, every little does help.

I am so proud to say I am an Australian, and I am so proud to say that as a nation we have, per capita, eclipsed many larger countries with our generosity, and continue to keep giving. Our generosity has been shown by the number of individuals and corporations who have made one of the largest single donation efforts to various appeals in Australia’s history. The dedicated efforts of non-government organisations should also not be overlooked as they continue to raise funds over the long term. This will assist sustainable projects bring real benefits to the people affected by this tragedy. It is particularly enlightening to see all organisations and governments involved in recovery and rebuilding efforts continue to put a concerted and united effort into ensuring that the most targeted forms of aid and logistical assistance are placed into the areas of most need. This tragedy crosses and transcends all political boundaries, and I acknowledge the Chief Minister’s remarks in regard to the bipartisan support shown at a federal government level.

I hope that ongoing support and direct recovery assistance can continue on the ground in all the countries affected, but particularly in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, so that the people who have lost families and friends can continue on the path of rebuilding their lives and communities. I offer my condolences to all family members and relatives. I pray for God’s blessing upon them at this time so they have peace, and that they too can take courage in knowing that if they live in Australia they live in one of the most giving and compassionate nations in the world.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo): I echo the sentiments expressed by members of this place this morning. The events of Boxing Day and the subsequent impact on so many of the world’s population would seem to be unparalleled, certainly in my lifetime, and I hope it is in the lifetimes of those who come after us. During my preparations for debate on this motion I had cause to speak to representatives of a number of embassies and high commissions here in Canberra about the way that the tsunami had affected the daily lives of their citizens. I am aware that there are approximately 2,800 members of the Sri Lankan community in Canberra, some 700 Indonesian residents, 200 Malaysians and 1,500 Indians. This is just a small representation of the effect the tsunami has had on our Canberra community. Our thoughts and prayers have been with them during this time of grief, mourning and anguish. Let us not forget that many members of these communities residing here in Canberra have been personally touched through the loss of friends and loved ones. For some, there may still be the uncertainly of not knowing exactly what has happened. Some may never know.

Australians have been assisting in a practical sense through the provision of clean water, facilities for schooling, hospitals and other essential services we probably take for

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