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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13252

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:12): I rise on indulgence to express our deep sympathy and condolences for the four victims of the recent Western Australian bushfires and their families. The tragedy of people going about their daily lives in a farming community in Esperance, only to be confronted by a firestorm, drives home to all of us the very grave dangers to life and property as the bushfire season is upon us. The Australian summer can be a very challenging and unpredictable time. I want to pay tribute to the firefighters and their crews who tackled these Western Australian fires and brought them under control. As a nation we have a great debt to the service and bravery of our professional and volunteer fire services who put their lives on the line to keep their communities safe.

In the Shire of Esperance this is a time for rebuilding and we are committed to providing whatever is needed to help that community through this heartbreaking event. The shire's president, Victoria Brown, summed up the challenge ahead when she said:

Our geographic isolation … is actually our greatest strength in a situation like this. It makes us strong. We are a close-knit, resilient community and we have always been supportive of one another in times of crisis.

That is the strength, solidarity and unity typical of communities across our great country when tested by the ravages of natural disasters. The bushfire season has arrived early in parts of Australia. All of us will need to be especially vigilant to protect our lives and property in the weeks and months ahead.