House debates

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Statements by Members

O'Connor Electorate: Bushfires

1:48 pm

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

We've heard from members here today about the devastating floods on the east coast over the weekend. In my electorate of O'Connor, in the south-east of Western Australia, we had our turn at bushfires. Extremely hot conditions—40 degrees plus—across the southern part of WA led to large uncontrolled fires at Lake King and Hyden and in my home town of Katanning. On Friday, a fire started and burnt around 2,000 hectares of stubble and grassland. It was under control by Friday afternoon, thanks to the efforts of about a hundred local farmers and fire units that turned up at very short notice and in very quick time. On Saturday, in 40 degree heat, with winds gusting up to 65 kilometres an hour, the fire broke containment lines and threatened the town of Katanning, a town of 4,000 people, the town where I grew up. At one stage things were looking very, very serious. Thanks to the enormous effort of over 300 fire units from surrounding shires—most people here wouldn't understand, but every farmer and most small landholders have their own fire units, and they turned out from hundreds of kilometres away to help protect the town of Katanning. Unfortunately, one house was lost. The fire burnt up to the town boundary and burnt through many of the small landholdings. But, due to the great work of the local fireys, properties were saved, although some outbuildings were lost. I want to thank and acknowledge the great work of Liz Guidera, the shire president, who led the community very ably; and the fire control officers, Matt Kerin and Geoff Stade and all of those— (Time expired)