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MPs lead tributes on one-year anniversary of Greta bus tragedy

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Politics were pushed to the side for a very sombre occasion in the Hunter Valley this week.

While no official ceremony took place on the one-year anniversary of the Greta bus tragedy on 11 June, it was heartening to see Labor’s Cessnock MP Clayton Barr and Nationals’ Upper Hunter counterpart Dave Layzell lead the tributes on behalf of the community.

The pair visited the newly-constructed memorial garden on Tuesday, situated less than 1km from the accident site.

Mr Barr and Mr Layzell, along with respective mayors Jay Suvaal (Cessnock) and Sue Moore (Singleton), have been unrelenting in their support for not only the victims’ families but those who were injured in the incident.

Twelve months ago, the lives of Nadene and Kyah McBride, Andrew and Lynan Scott, Kane Symons, Rebecca Mullen, Darcy Bulman, Zach Bray, Tori Cowburn and Angus Craig were lost when Brett Button failed to control the vehicle he was driving.

A further 25 people were hospitalised.

“My colleague Dave and I wanted to pay our respects on behalf of our communities,” Mr Barr said.

“This tragedy has forever changed so many lives.

“My thoughts are with the victims’ families, friends, survivors, first responders and communities as we remember those we have lost so tragically.”

Those sentiments were shared by Mr Layzell.

“On behalf of the community, we delivered a prayer and reflection to the post box there at the site,” he said.

“To the victims, may they rest in peace.

“To the survivors, may their journey of recovery continue.

“To the first responders, we thank you for your work that night and to your continuing work for our community.

“And, to the families, please remember that the love of our community will always be there for you as we know your grief will be eternal.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns’ thoughts were also with everyone affected by the disaster.

“The 11th of June marks the one-year anniversary of the Hunter Valley bus tragedy,” he said in a statement.

“Ten wedding guests were killed and 25 more were injured when their bus crashed in the town of Greta.

“The impact of that night was felt nationwide.

“Communities were left heartbroken in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania; and in the tightknit NSW towns of the region – like Branxton, Cessnock and Singleton.

“Their grief continues to this day.

“For survivors, the first anniversary will be another painful step in this process.

“For the families and friends of those killed and injured, this date will stir many emotions.

“We understand that families may need some privacy at this time… and we ask everyone to honour and respect these wishes.

“On this day, I want to express the love and support of the wider community – to all those who are suffering.

“We also remember the role of our first responders, both members of the public and emergency services personnel.

“In the face of life’s cruelty, we take comfort in their kindness and bravery.

“The people of NSW remain with you in your grief and will support you on this anniversary and in the painful years ahead.”

Cessnock City Council recently opened the garden, which is located part-way along the Branxton to Greta Memorial Shared Pathway on the New England Highway.

The space aims to provide a tranquil setting for remembrance and reflection.

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