Gillard breaks down while paying tribute to disaster victims

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 15:10

Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia
Gillard Tuesday made an emotional speech while paying tribute to the victims of the Queensland floods on the floor of the Parliament.

According to media reports, Gillard`s voice broke and her
eyes welled up as she led condolence motions for the 35 people
who died in the Queensland floods.

Seven people remain on the missing list. The first day of
parliament for 2011 has been set aside for the condolences.

She also paid tribute to all those affected by Cyclone
Yasi and bushfires in Western Australia, where 68 homes were
razed this week on the outskirts of state capital Perth.

"A new chapter in natural disaster history has been
written", Gillard said adding, "you could not talk about the
losses of summer in cold hard economic facts because human
lives were immeasurable".

Recounting the difficulties Australia faced during the
summer, Gillard said, "That is a cost that can`t be measured.
When people and communities were back to full strength the
dead would not be forgotten".

"They are not just names on a list," she said. "They were
someone`s brother, sister, grandparent or child.

"No insurance payout is going to fill that," Gillard

As she recounted the story of Jordan Rice, who was killed
with his mother Donna, Gillard`s usually controlled demeanour
The teenager had saved his brother`s life instead of his
own and was washed away with his mother.

Gillard also spoke of a pregnant mother whose child was
torn from her arms and drowned.

But in adversity came mateship and strength from
volunteers and neighbours, the prime minister said.
"We should also remember this summer as a sign of
courage," Gillard said.

Gillard has been under sustained attack in recent weeks
for her allegedly "wooden" demeanour when touring flood
stricken towns.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 15:10

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