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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2229

Ms COLLINS (FranklinMinister for Community Services, Minister for the Status of Women and Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development) (09:52): I want to talk about the very serious issue of bushfires in my home state of Tasmania. In recent days, temperatures have been high again, and unfortunately bushfires have flared up after what has been a very difficult summer for Tasmanians particularly. The resilience of local Tasmanians I think really needs to be put on the record in this place, as does the generosity of the Tasmanian people who volunteer throughout the bushfires and afterwards, cleaning up and providing support, donating their time and their efforts.

Sadly, bushfires have hit all regions of Tasmania over what has been a very difficult summer, including parts of my electorate. The worst affected region, though, has undoubtedly been the Tasman Peninsula, particularly the town of Dunalley, as well as the Central Highlands; Lake Repulse, at the east coast; and Richmond and Middleton in my electorate, as well as, in recent days, Risdon Vale in my electorate.

Sadly, during these bushfires one life was lost with the passing of a Victorian firefighter who came down to help the Tasmanian firefighting effort on the Tasman Peninsula. This was not because of the fire but because of other reasons. It is very, very sad indeed, but it was remarkable that more Tasmanian lives were not lost throughout these bushfires. Of course, Tasmania had record temperatures at that time and very strong winds, and it was really quite difficult for those people who were involved in these bushfires. As I said, thankfully there was just the one loss of life.

But this is not the first time that Tasmania has faced disaster with bushfires. The 1967 Tasmanian bushfires devastated the communities in my electorate of Kingborough and Huon. Many families, including that of my own father, lost everything they owned, and I cannot forget that 62 Tasmanians died in the 1967 fires. I have spoken about them many times in this place before.

But I think we also need to talk about the first-class emergency management system that Australia now has in place—sadly because, of course, we have had far too many emergency situations in recent years, with many, many thousands of Australians affected. The more that individuals can do to prepare themselves for bushfire and other emergency situations, the better off people are.

I really want to put on record my thanks to the Tasmanian community for their resilience, to the firefighters for their efforts, to the SES for their efforts and to every single Tasmanian who has donated their time, their service and their support to those in need. Thank you.