TUESDAY, 7 JUNE 2016
SUBJECT/S: Coogee Surf Life Saving Club; Extreme weather on the east coast
BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Tanya Plibersek, Mark Dreyfus, Matt Thistlethwaite and myself would like to thank the President and members of the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club for showing us the extent of the damage, the devastation that Sunday night's storm and king-tides have caused to this club.
Everybody knows that this surf lifesaving club is an icon of the community. Generations of young Australians have learnt being nippers and learnt how to surf here. This club preforms more than just a role for its members, it helps serve a community. Labor, and I am sure the Liberal Party, will stand by this club because this club has stood by so many in its community for so long. We've seen the terrible damage done and I think that all Australians, if they hadn't already heard of this life saving club will recognise it now.
In the worst of times, we see the best of Australia. I want to acknowledge the volunteers and the professionals that I have met from the SES, from the club, from the police, from the fire department. It sometimes takes a disaster to bring out the best in people but I've got no doubt that what we will see here is this club will rebuild. And indeed, damaged communities right through Australia will rebuild.
My thoughts though most importantly, are with the family members of people who they've lost. People have been lost to these terrible storms both on the mainland and in Tasmania and there are more people missing.
I am particularly concerned at this time about Tasmania. They still have to see more weather and more rising floods.
I have to say, and I just want to echo the comments of the police and the emergency services, if motorists or people are confronted by flooded river ways and water courses, please follow the directions of the experts. Do not enter these flooded rivers and water courses and creeks. The current can be deceptive. A vehicle, once it loses traction with the ground becomes a diabolical trap. People must listen to the experts. There is nothing so important or so timely that you can't afford to wait. We don't want to see any more people lost to this terrible weather. Please, we have got the SES, they are not there just for the sake of it. If they give you good advice, please follow it. It is much more important that you take a longer time to get home and get home safely than see some of the scenes we are seeing in families in Tasmania, in New South Wales and the ACT right now.
I should also indicate that I have spoken with the Prime Minister. During this political election, there are things which are more important than the day-to-day political rancour and debate. This is such an event. He and I both indicated we are happy to visit and support in Tasmania and NSW.
I will certainly look forward to doing so but when the immediate emergency is abated. What we now need to do is keep backing our volunteers, keep backing the emergency experts, make sure everyone is safe and make sure everyone gets home in one piece.
Thank you everybody and I want to thank the club again for their tour and I and everyone will help you rebuild. You deserve nothing less.
JOURNALIST: Just on the debate, Mr Shorten -
SHORTEN: Sorry, I think it is appropriate that I just talk about this issue. Senator Gallagher and others will be available to talk about other political matters. Like most people, when you see these images, it shows you the power of nature and why we must look after each other in these very tough times.