Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Opposition Whip) (13:58): Like many, I was shocked and dismayed yesterday to learn of the powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake that has hit Morocco in the High Atlas mountains, with its epicentre not far from the popular and economic hub of Marrakesh. Reports say up to 2,100 people have been killed in the disaster, thousands injured and buildings turned to rubble. There are reports of entire villages being almost entirely destroyed.
Along with the member for Calwell, I am the co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Morocco, and I took the opportunity this morning to call their ambassador, Her Excellency Wassane Zailachi, to express my condolences and concerns. The ambassador reported a massive, all-out country effort with significant support coming from neighbouring nations to deal with the disaster. I’ve visited Marrakesh as a tourist in the past. The ambassador says that while there is some damage to the Medina—it is, after all, a World Heritage listed site—she was pleased to report that it would be reparable. I understand there is some fairly significant damage to the main mosque. Rescuers are scrambling through the mountains to assist people. The ambassador’s words to me were: ‘It’s like Australia and it’s like your bushfires, and we will rise to meet the challenge and overcome these difficulties.’ My heart and, I think, the hearts of everybody in this chamber go out to the people of Morocco at the moment, and I wish them well.