Tuesday 22 March 2005

Mr Finch - Rosevears - Mr President, on 27 August 1883, the day of the Krakatoa explosion and the tsunami which resulted in more than 30 000 deaths, few Australians would have had much knowledge of what is now Indonesia. It took weeks for news of that disaster to reach most Australians and when it did, few could comprehend its extent and few felt any close relationship with the people who suffered. What a contrast with this latest disaster which is centred in the same area, the Sunda Strait. So what is different this time? The scale of the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 is of course vastly greater but the main difference, I believe, is that now we have a much closer concept of a world and a regional community.

Our communications revolution has meant that most Australians knew of the tsunami disaster within hours. They were aware as that death toll climbed rapidly. I think first reports on Boxing Day afternoon were that 12 000 had been killed and then of course there were the staggering numbers. The member for Rowallan has mentioned 250 000; it could even be as high as 300 000 people, with countless others homeless and their lives devastated.

We have seen those images on television and read about them in our newspapers. We feel a kinship with those survivors and we can understand their loss and the problems that they face. Australians, as we have heard, have been personally active in helping. We were able to fly aid to Banda Aceh within hours of learning of the scale of the disaster and the suffering. It was an immediate response.

Many Tasmanians have holidayed in those areas hit by the tsunami. We have met students from the regions affected. For those of us who are Melbourne and AFL supporters, we can put a human face to the tragedy with Troy Broadbridge dying on his honeymoon. In other words, we feel part of the regional community and can identify with and feel for the victims. The world is coming closer together and Tasmania is no longer an isolated outpost.

All of us here today have no doubt felt deep sorrow for the families and the friends of the victims and for the communities that have been devastated. We all fully support this motion. I do not know for sure, but I doubt that a similar motion was proposed in 1883 for those victims of Krakatoa. Tasmanians then could have only had a vague notion of what had happened, and where, and there was little they could do to help those victims. Now things are different and I believe that Tasmanians are rising to the new challenges of our time.