House debates

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Statements by Members

Lyons Electorate: Bushfires

1:49 pm

Photo of Brian MitchellBrian Mitchell (Lyons, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

For the past week, a bushfire has been raging in the north-east of my electorate, and I stand to pay tribute to the hundreds who are battling the flames. Since last Friday, some 7½ thousand hectares has been burned out, and there's no sign of the flames abating. The fire now has a 35-kilometre perimeter and is just 10 kilometres west of St Helens, a town of 1,500 souls. People in Pyengana, north of St Helens, have been warned to prepare in the event that embers spread. Volunteer brigades battling the flames include St Helens, Falmouth, Scamander, Avoca, Fingal, St Marys and Mathinna. There are also personnel from the State Emergency Service, parks and recreation, and Sustainable Timber Tasmania, formerly known as Forestry Tasmania. Every one of these people deserves our thanks for their commitment, and this is a view shared by the St Helens community itself. Local man Stephen posted on the St Helens fire brigade Facebook page: 'Is there anything we in the community can do for you guys—make sandwiches, drinks, wash clothes or anything else?' That's the level of commitment from the local community.

Before this speech, I just got off the phone with Ian Bounds, the fire service regional chief for northern Tasmania, and he's worried about challenging conditions predicted for the weekend. He says the Tasmanian Fire Service is considering asking interstate authorities to lend a hand, particularly with air support. That's how serious it is. I urge everyone, as we're now in bushfire season, to prepare for a hot, dry summer ahead.