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Transcript of remarks at the World Firefighter Games announcement with Greg Hough, CEO of the World Firefighter Games: Davidson Rural Fire Brigade, Sydney: 23 June 2012: World Firefighter Games



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JOH

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

23 June 2012 TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR REMARKS AT THE WORLD FIREFIGHTER GAMES ANNOUNCEMENT WITH GREG HOUGH, CEO OF THE WORLD FIREFIGHTER GAMES,

DAVIDSON RURAL FIRE BRIGADE, SYDNEY

Subjects: World Firefighter Games.

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GREG HOUGH, CEO, WORLD FIREFIGHTER GAMES:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks very much for coming out here this morning. I’m Greg Hough, the Chief Executive of the World Firefighter Games, which is going to be held here in Sydney in about 120 days from today. I’m here with Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition, who is announcing his participation in the Games. As many of you would know, Tony has been a member out here at Davidson for over a decade and the Rural Fire Service is very close to his heart and passion outside of politics. He has recently registered to participate in the World’s Toughest Firefighter Alive Relay with a couple of his teammates here from Davidson. He’s going to represent Australia in that event and hopefully bring home the gold.

The World Firefighter Games is an event that is for firefighters throughout the world. It’s not just for full-time firefighters but also for the volunteer firefighters in the SES - people that know and are at the forefront of supporting Australia in its disasters, fires and floods and such. Therefore, we’re looking for a big contingent particularly in the volunteer area to come and support the Games in Sydney, between October 19 and 28. There are many, many sports, over 70 sports and around 10,000 competitors from around the world and many social activities as well. It’s all about participation, the camaraderie side of things and a bit

of fun and obviously we really appreciate Mr Abbott’s support at these Games and look forward to Sydney getting behind them as well.

I’ll just pass over to Tony for a few words.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks very much, Greg. It’s great to be here at the Davidson Station. As Greg has said, I’ve been a member here since 2000. It’s been an important part of my life. I want to thank Trent Dowling and the crew I’ve been with today for allowing us to help launch the World Firefighter Games in Sydney in October. I think this is a great opportunity for firefighters from around the world to demonstrate their skills and to receive the support of the Australian community that they deserve for the efforts they put in to protect our community. Greg, I think, was a little ambitious when he speculated on a medal that might be won by the team! Our

ambition is to participate and in participating we want to demonstrate the skills which the Rural Fire Service brings to the protection of the people of New South Wales.

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I believe this is the first time that the World Firefighter Games has also been open to State Emergency Service volunteers. Certainly, these particular Games are going to make a very big effort to secure the involvement not just of the New South Wales Fire Brigade but also of the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Services. So, I think this is a great initiative. I think it’s great for Sydney, great for Australia and great for the fire services. I think I’ll be more of a participant than a competitor but I’m looking forward to it very much.

Now, if there are any questions, Greg and I are happy to take questions.

QUESTION:

Will the Games be a nice break from putting out proverbial fires in politics?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I suppose the great thing about the Rural Fire Service is that for most of its members it is part-time and it’s volunteer and certainly the great thing for me about the Rural Fire Service is that it hasn’t stopped me from being very heavily involved in public life. Now, I did have to stand down as a Deputy Captain of this brigade when I became Opposition Leader but I’m still an efficient firefighter - perhaps not as efficient as I was, as might have been obvious in that drill - but nevertheless for me this has been an important part of my life and certainly it’s been a good diversion from the hurly burly of my normal job.

QUESTION:

Local councils have talked about no longer funding some of the Rural Fire Services. What are your thoughts on that?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it’s very important that the emergency services generally are properly funded and I’ve got to say as a rural firefighter in the ranks I think we get good support from the state government and we get good support from our local councils and we also get good support from the community. Every Christmas, members of this brigade are out there in the community raising money and getting donations from local people and, as I said, the two levels of government which are principally involved in the Rural Fire Service, state and local, have been very good to the Warringah-Pittwater brigades and certainly we lack for nothing in terms of support from local people.

QUESTION:

The boys were criticising your rolls out there. Do you need to improve on that at all?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I think a certain amount of friendly joshing is part of participation in the Rural Fire Service. There’s a bit of a rule that if you’re driving the truck and you miss a gear, well, you’ve got to shout a round for everyone who’s on that crew. So, I don’t think that rule is often enforced but nevertheless, this is the kind of tradition which you have in a service like this but as I keep saying to my mates on this crew, yes, I am a little rusty but the practise is good for me.

Thank you.

[ends]