On the 40th Anniversary of the Granville Train Disaster Memorial Service Granville, NSW
We are here today to grieve and to remember. We are here, all of us, assembled with you who have lost so much. The Governor, Mrs Hurley, the Premier, so many of our state and federal parliamentary colleagues. All of us here, standing with you, sharing your loss.
It was an ordinary day forty years ago when the 6.09 from Mt Victoria set off for the city, picking up nearly 500 busy commuters along the way. An unremarkable journey it seemed, passengers chatting, reading the papers, planning the day ahead.
And then the unthinkable. Here at Granville the train left the tracks, crashed into the bridge which then collapsed. Eighty-three people were killed. Their names are inscribed on the monument behind us. Many more injured, many more still left grieving to this day, lives changed in an instant of horror, an accident which should never have happened, bringing forty years of pain and loss.
Alexander Pederson is with us today, he is 103. His son Bruce was one of those killed. Bruce was 26. Alexander’s love for his boy is as intense today as it was forty years ago. Just as June Ollerenshaw’s love for her girls is that intense today as it was forty years ago when their lives were lost in this tragedy.
We grieve with you and all of those who lost loved ones – children, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters, grandfathers. We mourn with Anthony Ball whose father Eric was killed in this tragedy. Anthony never met his dad. He was seven months in his mother’s womb. He turns 40 in just a little while.
We put our arms around you in love and solidarity but know we will never truly understand the burden you bear and the pain that you endure. But you are not alone. Not today, and not then. Forty years ago, the nation wept with you, shared your horror, admired the courage of the victims, survivors and those who rushed to their aid.
To those who survived, we offer our heartfelt admiration for the grace and the strength you have shown. Many of you still suffer terribly from the ongoing physical effects and the emotional scars of your loss.
And while what was lost that day will never heal, lessons were learned, safety regulation was improved. A reminder that the first duty of every government is ensuring the safety of the people and being always vigilant in making it better assured.
Today, we honour and remember the heroism of the first responders, the men and women of the New South Wales police and emergency services. Every police officer and emergency services worker was forever affected by what they saw that day. Today, we thank them as we should thank them every day.
Our police, security and emergency services, like the men and women of the Australian Defence Force are the best in the world – they keep us safe from many dangers, and when disaster strikes, as it did here, they throw themselves into the breach – selfless in their service to our nation and its people.
This year, we also mourn the passing of John Hennessey and Dick Lamb. John founded the Granville Memorial Trust and worked tirelessly to establish a permanent memorial to ensure we never forget the victims of this tragedy.
Dick Lamb was an off-duty police officer and one of the first responders on the scene. He is remembered as one of the unsung heroes of this disaster. On behalf of the Government and the people of Australia – we remember you and those you lost, we grieve with you, we are with you forever in your sorrow and in your solidarity.