House debates

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Constituency Statements

Queensland: Bushfires

10:15 am

Photo of Ken O'DowdKen O'Dowd (Flynn, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week my electorate of Flynn was devastated by extreme bushfires. I'm glad to say that with an ease in weather conditions and rainfall overnight, the fires have been extinguished. Curtis Island and the national park at Blackdown are still burning but are under control. Sadly, one man has died in relation to these fires. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this difficult time. Mr George Bird was killed while clearing firebreaks when he was struck by a tree. Numerous other structures, vehicles and farming machinery have been lost. Nine houses have gone. Thankfully, many homes have been saved by the good work of the fire brigades, both rural and urban, and now people are returning to their homes to see the devastation. Power has been mostly restored to the regions, but it continues to be difficult days for Queenslanders. My thanks go to Ergon and Telstra for prompt action when the call was made.

I acknowledge the hard work of the men and women fighting these fires, the volunteers and those who travelled interstate to help, who came from each state in Australia and the territories to provide assistance to our hardworking locals. Almost 500 fighters came from across Australia to assist them. I commend the efforts of all the career and volunteer emergency services personnel who have been working tirelessly over the last week with very little sleep. Our emergency services are once again showing their professionalism and dedication in the face of very, very difficult conditions. Approximately 40 millimetres of rain fell overnight, which came as a blessing. Please look out for the vulnerable members of our community such as children and the elderly. These people must be looked after as the recovery takes place. It is a terrible situation to lose all your possessions.

Emergency Management Australia and Australian Defence Force liaison officers are on hand at the Queensland state disaster coordination centres. The Australian government continues to work closely with the Queensland authorities to provide assistance. We are now entering recovery mode. Our Commonwealth Defence forces have been on stand-by to provide assistance, ready to aid Australian authorities in their efforts to manage this situation. The Commonwealth is unable to deploy Defence assets without the prior approval of the Queensland state government. Despite this, the Queensland state government has made no request for assistance from the ADF. I urge the Queensland state government to accept assistance for the clean-up after these extreme fires.