House debates

Monday, 9 December 2013

Constituency Statements

Macquarie Electorate: Bushfires

10:34 am

Photo of Louise MarkusLouise Markus (Macquarie, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I would like to take this opportunity to express my dismay at the behaviour of those opposite during what has been a very difficult time for my electorate following the bushfires. The federal member for Sydney has made absolutely false and misleading, indeed scurrilous, claims against me. Like an irresponsible teenager, she has used social media as a means of spreading these inaccuracies. I find it amusing that the member for Sydney has claimed: 'She is not in the Blue Mountains very much, is she?' Well, I call on her to spend a week with me. I ask: where was the member for Sydney during a natural disaster in my electorate? I certainly failed to see her on the ground during what was a harrowing and terrifying experience for our community. I have stood with members of the public in front of their houses that have been burnt to ashes. I have embraced people in the evacuation centres, who were not sure what they would face once they got the all-clear to go home.

I have spoken with young people, faced with losing everything, who were not sure what their next step was. Many of them were in the middle of their HSC exams, very anxious and concerned about their future. During these times there were no cameras rolling, no media present. It was just me and my community. But it seems that those opposite do not see any value in those things. They are only interested in presenting a front of caring.

I have not stopped working for and responding to the needs of my community since this disaster struck. I have been absolutely vocal in my support for the coalition's commitment to deliver concessional loans to small business. I, along with my colleagues, am working to have this measure implemented as soon as is physically possible. I have been engaged with key small-business agencies, as well as the tourism sector, to assess the full extent of the impacts of the bushfires on these industries. They have already lost close to $40 million.

Last Friday I was delighted to be in Springwood and to be part of the announcement by the Commonwealth Bank, which has committed $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity, which are going to bring A Brush With Kindness work teams on the ground. It is because of my relationship with Habitat for Humanity, having witnessed their work in the past, that I was able to introduce them to Phil Koperberg and the recovery committee. This has resulted in a wonderful partnership, which will make a real difference to those on the ground, particularly those who are underinsured and uninsured.

The weekend before, I was able to witness CityCare deliver more than 300 Christmas hampers, at a picnic in Winmalee, to families affected by the bushfires. That was the result of my work to bring together this community organisation with the recovery efforts. It is these practical measures that I am focused on, in delivering for my community.

The member for Sydney has accused the coalition of being sneaky and underhand when referring to disaster relief arrangements. Yet Labor had implemented these very same arrangements five times during government. Is the member calling her own behaviour sneaky and underhand? That is not to mention the deceitful and dishonest behaviour we saw during Labor's six years in government—which, of course, I do not have time to outline.