House debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Statements by Members

Western Australia: Bushfires

1:31 pm

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week I had the melancholy task of updating the House on the catastrophic bushfires that ravaged the regions of Scaddan, Grass Patch, Salmon Gums and Merivale near Esperance in my electorate of O'Connor. Those fires destroyed almost 200,000 hectares of prime agricultural land, but the real tragedy was the loss of four lives.

Esperance Shire President Victoria Brown was right when she said, 'Our geographic isolation is actually our greatest strength.' Now, as the shire consolidates its recovery process, the resilience and generosity of country communities is plain to see. The helping hand is never far away. Local volunteer fire brigades who valiantly battled the blaze were joined by more than 200 firefighters from surrounding districts to help bring the fire under control. Co-operative Bulk Handling donated $250,000 towards the recovery phase. The region's major newspaper, the Kalgoorlie Miner, immediately launched an appeal that has raised $75,000 so far. In just four hours at a shopping centre last Saturday morning, the Albany fire crews raised $11,000. The Rotary Club of Boulder has donated $10,000. The generosity of businesses and community groups in our region is truly amazing.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull plans to visit the town next week to meet with the community, see firsthand the devastation the fires wrought and be briefed by fire controllers on the difficulties the Esperance fire and rescue service faced during the height of the blaze. I thank the Prime Minister for making time to visit Esperance, and I know that the community will welcome his support during this difficult period.