Page 1574 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015

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Our relationship with Nepal spans many years. We have had a longstanding diplomatic relationship. There has also been a significant relationship between the people of Australia and the people of Nepal. Many Australians have visited that wonderful country. For many Australians it is a rite of passage to go and trek in Nepal and see that magnificent landscape. I have not had the opportunity to do that but my wife, as a younger woman, trekked through Nepal. As the devastation was unfolding she was visibly upset as she recounted some of her adventures, the wonderful scenery and the people that she met there, whom she described as being gentle and gracious people. I think that is what we all take away from that tragedy.

We send our condolences to the people of Nepal and to the members of the Nepalese community in Canberra. We will not just be with you now, as this tragedy unfolds and in the immediate aftermath, but I am sure that as a Canberra community and as an Australian community our thoughts and our support will remain with you in the many months and years to come as you rebuild your beautiful nation.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo): I rise on behalf of the ACT Greens to join my Assembly colleagues in offering my sincere condolences to the people of Nepal for the losses they have suffered as a result of the earthquake that struck on 25 April. I would also like to offer my condolences to the Nepalese community here in Canberra, some of whom have joined us this morning, as they grieve for family and friends who have been affected by the tragedy back home.

I also offer condolences to the people of India, China and Tibet who were also affected by the impacts of this earthquake, and where people were also killed. Many foreign nationals were killed or injured as a result of this quake, including two Australians, one dead and one unaccounted for. To your families and loved ones, I offer our sincere condolences.

It is hard, sitting here in the comfort of our homes and offices in Canberra, to imagine the horror of this event and to conjure up the fear that those who experienced it on 25 April felt. What we do know is that Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries and one that is not especially well equipped to deal with the human casualties or the physical devastation to villages, cities, roads and other infrastructure.

Nepal is, however—Mr Hanson has just touched on this—a beautiful country. I know firsthand how welcoming the Nepalese people are to visitors from around the world. This time just three years ago I was in Nepal myself for the first time. I was incredibly taken, as so many people are, by the warmth of the people and the massively contrasting landscape to Australia’s. Coming from one of the flattest countries on earth, going to perhaps one of the most mountainous on earth, as an Australian it is an extraordinary place to go. It is a country that I think leaves an indelible mark on any of us that have been there.

It was with great personal sadness that I heard the news of the earthquake that occurred on what was Anzac Day here in Australia. Initial reports were bad, and over the days that followed it became clear that the loss of life and the impact of the earthquake were massive. Recent counts indicate that the death toll is in excess of 7,400 and injuries are reported to be more than 14,000. But both figures are sure to increase as authorities reach and assess some of the more remote parts of Nepal.

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