Prime Minister's Address to the people of Lockyer Valley - Gatton Memorial Ceremony
We, the leaders of the nation and the State, honour you in this place.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
This region made sacred by courage and loss.
A place where one year ago, we were reminded that for all its blessings and rewards, this can be a harsh and unyielding land as well.
As Australians, we never fear nature’s challenge.
That’s not who we are.
We are a nation that endures.
A people who return and rebuild.
Even before the total number of lives lost was known, images were being inscribed deep in our nation’s heart.
Images of horror and destruction.
And images of valour and sacrifice as well.
For me, those images will always be represented by the flag given to me by the Defence Force chopper pilots who saved so many lives on that dark and dangerous night.
The flag was still wet and muddy yet it couldn’t be more precious because it spoke to them – and to the nation – about courage and endurance.
What it means to be Australian.
And how people across Queensland somehow found the inner strength to face the death and destruction that engulfed them.
That flag has returned home to the people of the Lockyer Valley; a permanent reminder as time passes.
Indeed it’s hard to believe a year has passed.
Ten days ago the world welcomed in 2012.
But I know for many of you, January 1st was no festivity – the wounds are still too raw for that.
If there is any occasion for contemplating the past and the future, it is perhaps this day – January 10.
Your very own New Year.
A New Year without illusions as to how deep the hurt remains, and how far along the path of reconstruction we still have to go.
Marked not with champagne and celebration, but with remembrance and resolve.
Remembrance of those who have gone.
And resolve to somehow build new lives out of the wreckage of the old.
Much has been lost in this valley and in this State:
Precious loved ones.
And a familiar way of life.
But in the face of tragedy, much also abides:
The grace of community.
The strength and generosity of each other.
And a determination to never forget what happened here.
Not after one year.
Not after ten years.
Together we remember.
Together we will rebuild.