Legislative Council: Thursday, October 19, 2023



Turkiye-Syria Earthquake

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T.T. Ngo:

That this council—

1. Notes with concern the severe earthquake that has occurred in Turkiye and Syria, and the huge loss of life and injury suffered by people living in affected regions;

2. Notes with concern the high level of destruction that these earthquakes will have caused to people's homes and livelihoods;

3. Recognises the enormous emotional toll that will be felt by South Australians who originate from Turkiye and Syria, especially those who have relatives and friends living in affected regions;

4. Stands with our Turkish, Syrian, Kurdish, and other communities in South Australia with ties to affected regions; and

5. Calls on the federal government to provide urgent humanitarian relief through DFAT and relevant aid organisations as soon as possible.

(Continued from 9 March 2023.)

The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (17:11): I rise today to support the motion moved by the Hon. Tung Ngo regarding the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkiye and Syria earlier this year, and to express on behalf of the Liberal Party and my family our deepest condolences to the people of Turkiye and Syria impacted by this disaster.

As honourable members may recall, in the early morning of 6 February 2023 a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkiye and northern Syria. It was quickly followed by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake with an epicentre just 95 kilometres from the first. Over the course of the following three months, there would be a further 30,000 aftershocks recorded. To put this into perspective, it was the largest earthquake in Turkiye since 1939, which was also a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and it was the jointly second largest earthquake after the 1668 Anatolia earthquake.

At least 15.73 million people in Turkiye and Syria have been impacted by the disaster. The combined death toll stands at more than 58,000 people, including 50,000 deaths in Turkiye and over 8,000 in Syria, and nearly 130,000 people injured. Thousands of children lost their parents. Millions have been displaced from their homes. This makes it the deadliest earthquake in Turkiye since the year 526, more than 1,400 years ago, and the deadliest in Syria since 1822. It has been recorded as the deadliest earthquake worldwide since the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The impacts on people's livelihoods and damage to vital infrastructure will cause ongoing hardship, with an estimated 1.5 million people being left homeless according to the United Nations. The overall area of the damage was spread across about 350,000 square kilometres. That is equivalent to the size of Germany.

The impact of these earthquakes, though, reached beyond the borders of Turkiye and Syria, as families and communities from around the world have also felt the devastation, including members of the Turkish, Syrian, Kurdish and other multicultural communities in South Australia. It is heartening to see the quick response that came from the international community, including Australia, in sending rescue and aid workers to assist in the emergency disaster response, but more assistance will be required to help those communities in need.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight local fundraising efforts which have already been established by South Australian community organisations. I want to acknowledge the compassionate work by Human Appeal Australia, which has been running an urgent campaign to provide relief on the ground in both Syria and Turkiye. In South Australia, Human Appeal Australia worked together in solidarity with the Adelaide Sisters Association to create an urgent fundraising dinner. It was a privilege for me to be with our community during this time of despair, and I joined many amazing and generous people to support the important fundraising dinner on Sunday 19 February at the Krystal Function Centre.

With the support of individuals, businesses and community leaders, the fundraiser, hosted by Human Appeal Australia and the Adelaide Sisters Association, raised more than $240,000 that night. It was a great privilege to play a small part to support the fundraiser. I want to place my deepest appreciation on the record to thank the Human Appeal Australia team and Adelaide Sisters Association team for their unwavering support, kindness and compassion towards everyone affected by the devastating earthquake disaster in Turkiye and Syria. I also want to acknowledge that the Islamic Society of South Australia, the Islamic Information Centre of South Australia and Australians for Syria South Australia all contributed to the fundraiser.

Another significant fundraising event I would like to highlight today is the One Humanity Charity Concert for Turkiye and Syria which took place on 23 September 2023 at Her Majesty's Theatre. The concert was proudly organised by Pinnacle College working together with the Adelaide Festival Centre and the Australian Relief Organisation and was well supported by the Shahin Charity Trust, KGC, the AMRC, the Salam Supermarket and many other sponsors.

The concert featured performances by groups and individuals from various multicultural communities to help raise much-needed funds for the people of Turkiye and Syria. It was a very spectacular concert. It was a great honour to be invited to speak at the concert and give thanks to everyone who had contributed to the grand success of the charity event.

I place on the record my sincere thanks to the hardworking and tenacious Dr Mehmet Aslan, managing director and event host of the One Humanity Charity Concert, supported by Kamber Bagsoken, board members and the entire Pinnacle College team. I also acknowledge the amazing Farhan Shah, Governor's Multicultural Award-winning artist, who did a spectacular job as artistic director for the One Humanity concert. There was fantastic support from Keith Preston as the event and production coordinator. Shanelle Franklin and George Donikian did a marvellous job as presenters and MCs on the night.

Thank you to every single organisation that has organised events and initiatives not only to show the strong resilience of the Turkish and Syrian communities here but also to demonstrate the immense outpouring of love, compassion and support that the communities from all different cultural backgrounds have shown each other when disaster strikes. Thank you to those who have come together to fundraise. Those funds make a big difference to those most affected by the disaster.

We stand together, shoulder to shoulder, with everyone impacted by this devastating natural disaster and convey our heartfelt sympathies, thoughts and prayers to all our friends in our Turkish, Syrian and Kurdish communities and other multicultural communities at this time. We send our sympathies and prayers. I commend the motion.

Motion carried.