Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 February 2009) . . Page.. 467 ..
I know that many Canberrans want to assist, and they want to know how to assist. There will be so many opportunities for that, including our upcoming Canberra Day celebrations, where we will organise an opportunity for people to donate to support the rebuild and recovery in Victoria.
We are deeply sorry for the horrors that the people of Victoria have endured over the past four days. As Canberrans and fellow Australians, we are here to help. We will support the people of Victoria in dealing with their devastation and in recovering and planning for the future.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo): Like all my colleagues in this chamber, and people from around the country and, for that matter, around the world, it is with a heavy heart that I have been watching the news coming out of Victoria over the past days about the tragic and ferocious bushfires. There is a sense of incredulousness about the scale of the tragedy we are seeing—so many houses lost, towns wiped out and lives destroyed. We have recoiled in horror at the number of people whose lives have been taken. But beyond the numbers, we remember that every person is someone’s mother, someone’s father, their son, their daughter, sister or brother. Communities have lost friends, neighbours and colleagues. The people of Victoria are grieving and in shock at the havoc that has been wreaked upon their lives.
For many of us in Canberra, the images and stories we are seeing on our TV screens bring back very personal memories. Many of us have experienced at first hand the ferocity of the firestorms, we have seen houses incinerated and have felt the overpowering heat. The unexpected nature of the fires that tore through Kinglake reminds us of the fire that tore through Weston Creek. We know and we feel keenly how frightening it is to come face to face with such a foe.
In January 2003, when Canberra suffered at the hands of our own firestorm, I stood in Holder at my parents’ house facing nature at its most powerful. We share so much in common with those in Victoria, in being confronted by something we had never known—the darkness, the noise, the heat, wondering if help would ever come, the fear, the urge to fight, the urge to help, the separation from family and friends and not knowing what had become of our loved ones. We also witnessed the randomness of it all, of houses burnt to the ground whilst those next door stood untouched. We know the shocked and empty feeling that overwhelms in the first days and the uncertainty that looms on the horizon. Because we in Canberra know these things, we also know that it is just the beginning of a long recovery and that people’s lives will never be quite the same.
We know that they will need to rebuild not only their homes but also their communities and their hope. We know that the injuries and the losses are not only physical but also that the experience of enduring such trauma requires time to heal emotionally and psychologically. We are thinking of the people in Victoria as they start this long journey to recovery.
It occurs to me that there is something hopeful about the nature of people that is always demonstrated in times of adversity. And that gives me great faith in humanity. People pull together, offer support and encouragement, supplies and homes. Over the