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Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Page: 269


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:01): On indulgence, I believe it is appropriate for the House to mark the fact that it is one year since this House spent a lot of time sending its condolences to the people of Queensland and also to people of other parts of our nation that had suffered during the summer of natural disasters, not only through the flooding that hit Queensland but the cyclone, the flooding that hit other parts of our country, and of course there were also devastating bushfires in Western Australia.

Communities across the nation, particularly in Queensland, have been marking the one-year anniversary of these events. I had the privilege of attending the commemorative event in the Lockyer Valley. It was also attended by Her Excellency the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Governor of Queensland and Premier Anna Bligh. I had the opportunity to attend, along with my parliamentary colleagues the members for Blair and Oxley, the event in Ipswich, where what was unveiled was a flood marker in one respect, but it was appropriately referred to as a 'pillar of courage' to mark the way that that community had pulled together. In both of those communities, of course, the local leadership, by Steve Jones in the Lockyer Valley and by Paul Pisasale in Ipswich, was very important to how those communities got through. I acknowledge that members on the other side of the House were also with us for those events and thank them for that.

Having attended those event, I had the opportunity to reflect a bit on how people are feeling. When you went to those commemorative events you met some people who wanted a moment to reflect but who are getting on with their lives. You met some people for whom the pain is so raw it is as if it happened yesterday. Perhaps most disturbingly of all you heard the stories of some people who could not actually make it to the event, who had the intention of going but then could not get there because they are not quite ready to take their grief to a public place yet. So there is a lot of hurt around still.

When we met here a year ago we said we would not forget. Today is one time when we can say again that we are not forgetting and we will not forget. As we reflect on those events, our thoughts are with those around the country, particularly in Queensland and northern New South Wales, who are battling floodwaters even now.