Australia: National Day of Mourning 16th January 2005
SUNDAY, January 16, would be a national day of mourning for tsunami victims, says Prime Minister John Howard of Australia.
"Many Australians will mark that by attending church services, others will choose to do it different ways," he said. "I respect the fact that Sunday is not a day of religious observance for all faiths in this country."
The Prime Minister indicated he would attend a service at a mosque as well as church service that weekend.
"It's my intention, as well as attending a Christian service that weekend, to mark the occasion by a visit to a place of worship of other faiths, particularly having regard to the extraordinary number of people of the Islamic faith who've lost their lives in this terrible disaster."
Mr Howard paid tribute to Australians for their voluntary aid to tsunami victims, which has reached more than $85 million. "They have been truly impressive," he said. "I'm just blown away by the great generosity of people."
Mr Howard said Australia would provide more aid to affected countries, with that matter to dominate discussions with Indonesia and other nations at tomorrow's summit in Jakarta.
"We will provide further assistance, I've made that clear. What that assistance will be and precisely where and in what form is something to be further discussed and decided," he said.
"In a situation like this it's important that you provide generous, immediate pledges of financial help, you provide immediate effective on-the-ground assistance and then, as the extent of the disaster and the type of response needed crystallises, you provide further assistance."
Mr Howard said Australia's efforts, such as the provision of a water purification plant in Aceh, had considerably helped alleviate the suffering of survivors.
"We have a single mission and that is to provide assistance, to get it through in the most practical way possible," he said.