*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***
For a great many Australians, the past weekend will be remembered for oppressive heat and record-breaking temperatures.
But families in the central west of New South Wales – who have lost homes, crops and livestock – will look back on February 2017 and remember the black pall of smoke on the horizon and the ferocity of the flames.
Our thoughts are with all those Australians who have had their property damaged by fire. Including two volunteer fire-fighters, whose homes were lost while they were protecting other people’s land.
We are all acutely aware that things could have been so much worse. We are all deeply grateful that they were not.
Of course, we know the danger has not yet passed.
And at least 20 fires are still uncontained.
Today, our thoughts are with all those engaged in fighting the fires, caring for the injured and comforting the frightened.
We salute those Australians – helping their neighbours in hard times, living up to the very best of our nation.
And we urge the people of New South Wales to follow warnings, to plan ahead and to stay safe.
I thank the house.