House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


Mackellar Electorate: Rural Fire Brigades

4:21 pm

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We've had so much negativity in this debate that I thought I would raise the standard by saying that, over the last month, I have attended many of the AGMs for the 19 rural fire brigades that exist across my electorate.

Mr Perrett interjecting

At the risk of the member for Moreton calling a point of order on me, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will continue. The people you meet in the RFS are just everyday folk doing extraordinary things, giving up their time to keep their community safe. In Mackellar, an electorate surrounded by bushland and sea, there could be no more important task. Fortunately, we are never short of people willing to lend a hand. This summer, like most past, has seen days of scorching temperatures and high winds, days of extreme risk and total fire bans. Every day through summer, there is a team of dedicated volunteers that stands ready to brave the heat and face the very real dangers of a bushfire. The RFS in New South Wales is a great example of what public and private partnerships can achieve—volunteers, ably supported by government with equipment and resources, ready to meet challenges faced in the community. Within this team, everyone plays a part, from frontline firefighters braving the elements to those often unsung heroes feeding the troops and manning the communication channels. All play a vital role in keeping our community safe.

While time does not permit me to name every volunteer, every single one is worthy of mention. I would like to thank the captains and presidents of each brigade who have stepped up to the plate to contribute to the day-to-day running of the brigade. It's a task that requires an enormous commitment, and without you the RFS would not function. Congratulations and thanks to John Watson and Mark Wilkinson of Tumbledown Dick Hill, Brad Kelly and Gary Sambridge of Ingleside, Todd Wildman and Mark Casper of Terrey Hills, Trent Dowling and Richard Stewart of Davidson, Rick Jones and Bernie O'Rourke of Duffy's Forest, Chris Harmer and Troy Shelsher of Beacon Hill, Mark Stevenson and Brian Geach of Belrose, Jon Russell and Chrys Maoudis of Cottage Point, Luke Robinson of Headquarters, Roy Atkins of West Pittwater, Peter Lalor and Graeme Crayford of Scotland Island, Hugh Mackin of Coasters Retreat and Bob Mitchell of Mackerel Beach. Hugh has been president for 20 years and gets elected without anyone even having to cast a vote. On behalf of the whole community, I thank you for your efforts and dedication.

I would also like to acknowledge the many volunteers who received awards at their AGM, from those receiving long service awards to those being acknowledged for their highly commendable service over the past year. It's a constant reminder of the dedication these volunteers give to protect the community.

It would be remiss of me to not also mention the many younger volunteers who give up their time to join their local brigade. It is impressive to see so many of our community's youth wanting to give back to their local community. I would encourage others to sign up and give back to a community that gives so much to them.

Finally, I would like to make special mention of Dave 'TC' Cordery, who was recently, though too late, awarded an Australian Fire Service Medal. Dave been a member of the New South Wales rural fire service for over 60 years. His primary brigade has been Ku-ring-gai, where he continues to serve and where he earned the moniker 'TC'. Dave worked as a volunteer at brigade level. He has also held numerous positions, including captain and president for 16 years, senior deputy captain, deputy captain and secretary. He was one of the primary leaders of the brigade who guided its evolution from the community origin into the professionally trained brigade of today. In 2005 he was appointed a member of the district committee formed to evaluate the establishment of a logistics brigade for the Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai district. He holds the rural fire driver and community safety assistant qualifications and has regularly presented safety information to the local community. TC has worked for 60 years to make our community a better one, fighting fires, back-burning, chopping and just cleaning up the station, when no doubt he could have had his feet up at home or at the beach. A community relies on people like Dave. As Dave said to me, 'This is an award as much for me as it is for the people I worked with day in and day out.'