By NSW Premier Mike Baird @MikeBairdMP
There are moments in life for which nothing can prepare us.
December 15 and 16 of last year were such days.
In those endless hours we lost Tori and Katrina to a senseless and horrific act of terror.
We mourned, and we still mourn. But what we will always remember is how this city and state responded.
Something remarkable happened as we came alongside the families and all of those who endured the ordeal.
As a city we were drawn here to Martin Place.
We came in shock and in sorrow but every step we took was with purpose.
One woman, unknown, had laid some flowers.
Suddenly we knew that words were not enough, and so we also carried flowers.
That trickle of petals soon transformed into a sea of colour, and it was clear to the world that Sydney stands together. We had faced hate and horror – but we responded with love and defiance.
And we were reminded that, where there was grief, there was hope.
The floral tribute that came to symbolise our city will be captured in a permanent memorial.
In the day it will reflect the sun, and through the night it will shine as a reminder that light will always defeat darkness. On occasions like this, words fail me. They fail all of us, except perhaps our poets.
In 1969, our country’s most distinguished poet, Les A Murray, published a poem set in Martin Place called An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow.
Murray’s words resonate with me, now more than ever.
There’s a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can’t stop him.
The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile and drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talk and more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streets which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing: There’s a fellow weeping down there. No one can stop him.
We haven’t finished weeping, not just yet, but we know that behind these tears there is resilience and hope.
They remind us that a great city can overcome its darkest hours.
We have also revealed the concept for the permanent memorial that will forever serve as a reminder of how this city responded when terror came to our doorstep – when people were prepared to stop what they were doing to lay a flower at Martin Place.
As the floral tribute grew, it said to those who wanted to bring hate, we would respond in love and we would not be divided because we would unite instead.
The memorial was designed by Richard Johnson and features hundreds of floral cubes inset into new granite paving right across Martin Place. At night they will illuminate to remind us that, when faced with darkness, this city responded with light.
The memorial also honours Katrina and Tori, who will live in our memories forever.
Finally, this is the final column for 2015 and as we gather with family and friends during this festive time I would like to wish everyone across NSW a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.