STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE: COUNTRY-WIDE BUSHFIRES AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA
TUESDAY, 2 FEBRUARY 2016
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Mr Speaker I rise to support the sentiments of the Prime Minister concerning Australians affected by fire and flood.
Yesterday, 447,000 Western Australian students started the school year.
But 58 students from Yarloop Primary began this year in unfamiliar surroundings and different schools, after bushfires destroyed 162 homes in their town.
Tragically, two lives were also lost in the blaze.
On Christmas Day, along Victoria’s iconic Great Ocean Road – thick smoke filled the skies over Lorne, and flames roared down almost to the water’s edge at Wye River and Separation Creek.
Families and volunteers alike left tables set with Christmas lunch to either flee the fires, or to fight them.
116 homes – many handed down from generation to generation – would be destroyed.
The floods in the Territory and in the Hunter also caused significant dislocation.
And as we meet in this place, fires are raging in the ancient temperate forests of Tasmania.
Forests we can trace back to the supercontinent of Gondwana and the time of dinosaurs are burning, even now.
Thankfully at this stage, no lives or property are at risk
Mr Speaker these fires – at all points of our continent – were started by lightning strikes.
Random, fickle shafts of fate that set in motion loss of life, the destruction of homes, farms, fences and livestock and the reduction of some of Australia’s most beautiful forests to ash and cinder.
And in the case of every fire – it could have been so much worse.
Had it not been for the foresight, the dedication and the courage of our emergency services personnel, so many of them volunteers.
But for them, far more homes and lives would have been lost.
On behalf of all of us, and all Australians, I thank them for their bravery, their steely resolve and their service.
I extend the condolences of the House to all those who are still mourning the loss of someone they loved due to natural disasters this summer.
I offer our promise as a party, to co-operate and assist wherever we can to cut the red tape, to speed the work of rebuilding, helping families, farmers and local businesses to get back on their feet.
Mr Speaker floods and bushfires are an eternal part of life on our continent.
They are fierce, and fearsome.
But they are no match for the combined spirit of the Australian people.
When floods and fires wreak their devastation, Australians do not surrender to despair.
We rebuild, we reach out, we get on with it, we comfort and care for one another.
We do not just endure, we prevail. And we will do so again.
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