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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 24

Mr BRIAN MITCHELL (Lyons) (13:30): In the late spring and early summer of 1966, Tasmania experienced wet weather followed by hot, dry conditions that turned lush green growth into a crisp golden brown. The addition of a hot howling wind on this very morning, 50 years ago today, provided the final fatal ingredient for what is now known in Tasmania as Black Tuesday. In four hours, southern Tasmania was aflame and day became night. The township of Snug was destroyed and fires spread across the apple country of the Huon Valley to towns in the Southern Midlands and Derwent Valley. The state capital itself was threatened; its suburban fringes on fire. Sixty-four Tasmanians lost their lives. Thousands of buildings and homes were destroyed and 80,000 head of livestock perished. As is so often the case in a nation forged in flood and fire, heroes emerged: firefighters and farmers who showed uncommon bravery, families who opened their homes to neighbours and strangers, doctors and nurses who worked around the clock to heal the thousands of injured, and even young teenagers who saved the lives of children. I would urge every member of this House to read the Mercury this week. Its commemorative pages are filled with stories and memories from that fateful day. Fifty years on, southern Tasmania has been rebuilt, but we will never forget those who were lost, nor the sacrifice and heroism of so many ordinary Tasmanians who stood tall on that dark and forbidding February day.