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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 37


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:24): As the honourable member has just described, 50 years ago today south-eastern Tasmania was engulfed in an inferno that is, to this day, the state's most catastrophic natural disaster. Sixty-four people lost their lives; another 900 were injured. A total of 1,400 houses and buildings were destroyed. Thousands were left homeless. Tens of thousands of livestock perished. Livelihoods were destroyed. The disaster received worldwide attention, President Johnson of the United States expressing his profound sympathy for the people of Tasmania and all Australians who had suffered as a result of this misfortune.

Time and again, in the face of natural disaster, Australians show grace under pressure and bravery in the face of danger, and rally selflessly, without a second thought, to help each other. Our thoughts today are with the people of Tasmania—those who remember, those who suffered loss and those who rebuilt their lives. We remember all those who helped in those difficult and dangerous times and who, through acts big and small, helped their neighbours recover, repairing communities and restoring infrastructure.

We thank the firefighters, the other emergency personnel and the volunteers who courageously put their own lives at risk and coordinated all of the arrangements, all of the logistics, to ensure that the fire could be defeated and, in the aftermath, recovered from. Most of all, we remember and honour with admiration the resilience of the courage of the people of Tasmania.