(Note: I grew up near Marysville)
Not all politicians are elegant speakers, this speech from the Deputy Primister of Australia, The Honurable Julia Gillard MP had me in tears. For the full speech please go to the official Australian Government website:
I offer the deepest and most sincere condolences of this House and our Nation’s Parliament to those families suffering most, to the communities lost and to a State that will never be the same.
A tragedy beyond belief, beyond precedent and beyond words.
The 7th of February 2009 will now be remembered as one of the darkest days in Australia’s peacetime history.
The beautiful towns and hamlets of Kinglake, Marysville and Narbethong are no more.
At least 640 homes and their irreplaceable contents – like the photographs of children and memories of family life – have been destroyed.
The weekend’s fires and particularly February 7 2009 is surely Victoria’s blackest time.
While it does not yet have a tragic name, it is blacker than the human tragedies of Black Friday of 1939 and Ash Wednesday of 1983.
And in this dark time, there has been a human cost without comparison.
February 7th 2009 will be remembered as the day when more than 400 fires burnt across the State during the most severe weather conditions recorded.
It will be a day remembered for the lives lost – 107 at last count – and families and communities changed forever.
It will be remembered as the day when fires raged across the State – from Horsham in the West, Bendigo and Beechworth in the North, and in an arc of destruction from West Gippsland to Kinglake and Kilmore.
It will be remembered as a day of tragedy, courage and sheer luck.