Australian PM weeps for flood victims

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Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, fought back tears yesterday as she addressed parliament and spoke about the string of natural disasters that have struck the nation this year.

"This summer will always be remembered for the force and scale of the natural disasters the nation has endured," said Ms Gillard, who has seen support for her government slip amid January's record flooding, a punishing cyclone last week, and forest fires still raging in Western Australia. The flooding alone – which claimed 35 lives and damaged or destroyed more than 35,000 homes – could prove to be the nation's most expensive natural disaster.

Holding up an Australian flag given to her by a rescue crew, Ms Gillard said it was "a powerful symbol of what it means to face the elements, what it means to be hurt, of what it means to endure, of what it means to be Australian."