House debates

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Constituency Statements

Cordingley, Ms Toyah

10:21 am

Photo of Warren EntschWarren Entsch (Leichhardt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Next week marks the first anniversary of the brutal and horrific murder of 24-year-old Cairns woman Toyah Cordingley. Sadly, her killer or killers have not been caught, despite the biggest murder investigation Far North Queensland has seen. In fact, it's one of the largest police investigations since the kidnap and murder of Daniel Morcombe, with nearly 1,200 calls about the case made to Crime Stoppers. Ms Cordingley's murder on 21 October 2018, at Wangetti Beach, shocked my community to its core, and the effects are still being felt today. When she was murdered, Toyah was doing what thousands of other people do every day: walking her dog on one of our magnificent beaches.

On Saturday 19 October her family, friends, loved ones and perfect strangers will gather to remember the life that was so senselessly taken far too soon. Of course, they'll be wearing yellow, Toyah's favourite colour. They will meet at Ellis Beach before making their way down to Wangetti Beach for a short ceremony before unveiling a memorial monument in the southern car park. I've absolutely no doubt it will be a very emotional day for many people. Her murder is still very raw for many people in my community.

In the days and weeks following Toyah's murder, it became very clear that my community would never give up until the person or persons responsible were brought to justice. Thousands of bumper stickers were produced, and numerous banners, signs and billboards were erected on major thoroughfares, calling for information. It was a sustained community effort to keep the case in the spotlight, led by my friend Prong Trimble. The bumper stickers featuring Toyah's smiling face and sunflowers can be seen on vehicles across Far North Queensland and Australia, including on my own vehicle. Each and every day when I drive to and from work, I pass a couple of the huge billboards erected on the Captain Cook Highway urging people with information to contact the police. It's a daily reminder of how much Toyah's senseless murder touched my community, myself included.

Toyah's life and love of animals have been remembered in numerous ways. The federal government recently announced funding towards a Paws and Claws animal shelter at Port Douglas. Toyah volunteered countless hours for Paws and Claws. It was one of her great passions. Management of Paws and Claws, led by Michael Kerr, had no hesitation in dedicating an area of the new shelter to Toyah's memory. A mural of Toyah in a field of sunflowers will be painted on the wall in the dedicated puppy area so she can always look over and protect her animals. It will be known as Toyah's Puppy Nursery.

Toyah's murder touched so many people, but one thing has become very apparent: we will never give up until her killer or killers are brought to justice. May she rest in peace.