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Australia Day message: What magnificent communities we have in the Mallee Electorate

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What magnificent communities we have in the Mallee Electorate

The weeks before and after Australia Day 2011, will be remembered as a time when our true blue Aussie spirit came to the fore in fighting severe flooding and cleaning up as the water moved downstream in this part of Victoria.

About 10 percent of the 200 towns and communities in Mallee Electorate including Appin South, Berriwillock, Beulah, Birchip, Brim, Charlton, Culgoa, Dadswells Bridge, Dimboola, Donald, Glenorchy, Halls Gap, Hopetoun, Horsham, Jeparit, Jung, Kerang, Lubeck, Murtoa, Quambatook, Quantong, Rupanyup, Swan Hill, Teddywaddy, Warracknabeal, Wycheproof and so many places in between have been and will be defended, often with determined resolve.

This “get in and do it” spirit is alive and well and has meant many homes and communities have been saved.

We’ve heard the stories of flood heroes working tirelessly to save others when their own homes were under threat and the contribution of emergency services and individuals including those who have offered shelter to homeless families and a cup of tea for the workers.

This Australia Day we must also be mindful of the dire financial circumstances confronting our horticulturists and primary industry generally, who have been denied an opportunity to strengthen their final situations following these drought-breaking rains.

Despite this hardship we have cause this Australia Day to celebrate our land, our proud people, our diversity, our cultures, our freedom and democracy, and our belief in a fair go for all. The Australian work ethic has seen many come to our wonderful country and build a future for themselves and their families.

In this time of distress We have seen diverse cultures working side by side and new friendships formed. We can admire the way all sectors in these communities rose to the occasion and met every challenge head on.

The aftermath and clean-up will require the same resolve.

In particular, we should commend our public and commercial local radio networks for their flood bulletins. Those ready to assist should tune in so they can quickly respond to any call for help in their district.

Homes, businesses roads and bridges will need repair or replacement and this will not all happen immediately. The coming months will be a time for patience, a time to watch out for your neighbours and friends, a time for sharing and giving moral support.

The people in Mallee Electorate not impacted by the floods will be keen to come in with their energy and equipment and help when called. That is the Australian way, and in that vein, those who become Australians this Australia Day will know they have come to a good place.

We welcome families who have embarked on the journey from their distant homes to participate and contribute as Australians in a nation where they can live in peace and share in all our country has to offer.

Many of the Australia Day ambassadors around the nation have been invited to speak of their achievements driven by many factors including ambition, enterprise, innovation, belief and compassion towards others.

Australia Day 2011, in our part of Victoria will see many more heroes remembered by their communities long after the flood waters have receded.

As I write, it is now Swan Hill’s turn and the situation is so serious that the Australia Day Breakfast has been postponed because so many people will be helping their mates.

The months ahead will be trying as we rebuild and recover so this Australia Day let all people become closer and look forward to happier times.

John Forrest Federal Member for Mallee.