On 31 July hundreds of people across my region of the Illawarra gathered to honour the 96 men and boys who perished in the Mount Kembla Mine explosion in 1902 and give thanks to the survivors who rebuilt this great community following the tragic disaster.
It was also an occasion to honour those dedicated community members who have been significant to the preservation of Mount Kembla's history over the past 100 years. Without them there would be no commemoration ceremonies. Without them we would not be able to pay tribute to the sacrifices those young and boys made to make the Illawarra the prosperous and enviable region that it is today. The role is extremely important as I believe that, as proud people of the Illawarra, we should never forget where we came from.
The Illawarra is a mining district, and brave men like those we lost in 1902 are the backbone of this country. I am very proud to say also that some of them are some of the most active miners in industry, always in the forefront of campaigns for better conditions, fairer pay and the 35-hour week.
Those 96 men and boys did not die in vain; they left behind them a legacy that has lived on for more than 110 years, and I hope that it will live on for hundreds of years to come.