House debates

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Constituency Statements

Australian Bushfires

4:09 pm

Photo of Bert Van ManenBert Van Manen (Forde, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Over the last few days and, sadly, continuing throughout today we're seeing the real horror and impact of the bushfires raging across Queensland and northern New South Wales. Currently there are more than 80 active fires burning across Queensland, and over 600 firefighters are battling these blazes under some truly extreme circumstances. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the hardworking men and women of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and their colleagues in the Rural Fire Service, which is full of volunteers, for a truly incredible effort thus far. Sadly, it is a long way from being finished, based on the weather reports we've been seeing.

In my electorate of Forde, countless volunteers from the rural fire brigades at Ormeau, Cedar Creek Wolffdene, Coomera Valley and Chambers Flat are actively assisting the QFES in efforts in Sarabah—in particular, down near Canungra. The volunteers from the Ormeau rural fire brigade have been active in Canungra, with constant rotations of crews and fire trucks in shifts of up to 17 hours, and one of their members is supporting the air operations at state operations control in Canungra. As well, Cedar Creek Wolffdene rural fire brigade have had three of their volunteers and a number of their vehicles supporting the fires down towards Yarrabilba. Fortunately, these hardworking volunteers can do this because, so far, we've been spared these fires in my electorate. Even more volunteers and resources have been diverted from Chambers Flat and Coomera Valley to further assist in this firefighting effort. They've been assisting with incident control, back-burning efforts and putting out spot fires.

The incredible volunteers I've mentioned are only a small part of the hundreds of men and women who have been fighting these fires over the past seven or eight days now. Our volunteer firefighters are an incredible bunch of people. As Jim from Cedar Creek brigade told me, the reason so many people volunteer is the great sense of wellbeing and community spirit that they feel every time they lend a hand to fellow Australians doing it tough. Whilst I'm mentioning these wonderful volunteers in relation to the fires, with the floods in my area in 2017, they also previously did an outstanding job of helping our community through those very difficult circumstances. Sadly, we continue to see an increasing number of homes lost.

In my last few seconds I would like to condemn those who have deliberately lit fires, and we've seen the police in Peregian Springs talk to some teenagers about deliberately lighting fires. It is completely foolish and stupid and it creates an enormous risk to our community. But I want to thank the volunteer firefighters and the QFES for the terrific work they are doing in very difficult circumstances.