Condolence Motion – Typhoon Haiyan
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (11:57): In the past week we have seen horrific images coming out of the Philippines. Australians have been shocked by what they have seen and yet in a very small way they understand a little of what the people of the Philippines are going through. In my electorate of Hinkler earlier this year, homes and businesses were destroyed by the remainder of tropical cyclone Oswald. Roads were washed away leaving behind only trenches full of raw sewage. There were no services, no pipes, no cables, no poles and no wires. People stacked their filthy possessions on the kerb. Very little was salvageable.
Events like Supertyphoon Haiyan remind us just how lucky we were in Hinkler. All but a few families were reunited quickly. Some residents may have been frustrated by the time taken to restore services, but the rescue and initial recovery effort was swift in comparison to the devastating situation in the Philippines. In Hinkler, people had immediate access to shelter, medical supplies and clean drinking water. The generosity of our fellow Australians helped us through. I am proud to live in a country that so willingly helps others in their time of need.
So far, the federal government has committed $30 million to address nutrition and child health and to provide logistics support. This support is commensurate with what other nations have provided. The funds will go towards the United Nations appeal, the international and Australian Red Cross as well as Australian and local NGOs. With the help of the Australian Defence Force, we have deployed a medical team, AFP disaster management specialists and DFAT humanitarian consular experts. With the rescue and retrieval efforts still underway, we stand ready to provide further assistance when it is needed. The statistics continue to rapidly change, with often conflicting reports. The UN puts the number of fatalities at about 4,500 but the Philippines government says the number is closer to 3,600. Just this morning, news reports indicated a further 50 bodies had been found overnight in one town alone. The Philippines government estimates 12,500 people have been injured and 1,200 remain missing. Almost 73,000 families are being assisted at 1,500 evacuation centres.