Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tasmania: Prime Minister will visit as the bushfires continue.

Download WordDownload Word



This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Parliamentary Library.


It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in an y other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.


For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.





Wednesday 13 December 2006

Tasmania: Prime Minister will visit as the bushfires continue


PETER CAVE: The Prime Minister will today visit fire-ravaged Tasmania. 


It's been an anxious night in the north-east of the State, where a large blaze been burning just kilometres from the town of St Marys. 


Many residents and firefighters spent the night preparing homes, building containment lines and back-burning. 


With serious fires burning in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia as well, the usual interstate sharing of resources has not been possible, and Victorian authorities are already considering bringing in overseas help. 


Annie Guest reports. 


ANNIE GUEST: Flames licked the outskirts of the Tasmanian coastal town of St Marys overnight. 


While favourable winds allowed firefighters to back-burn, residents spent a sleepless night dousing gutters and gardens. 


Others sought refuge in the town of St Helens, and some worriedly asked questions of fire authorities. 


Local Mayor Robert Legge. 


ROBERT LEGGE: Personal questions came through, such as: "could you tell me if my house is still standing? I've got a tank, I've got no power, I've got a pump on it, how do I get water out of it?" 


ANNIE GUEST: St Mary's resident Dana Smith stayed at home, preparing for the blaze. 


DANA SMITH: I might be a kilometre-and-a-half from where the fire's burning now, through the bush. There's a lot of leaves and bits of rubbish falling all over the yard everywhere. 


ANNIE GUEST: What have you been doing as the fire moves closer to St Marys? 


DANA SMITH: Well, we've actually got all the tanks full, we've got pumps all around the yard, on vehicles. We've wet everything down and wet the lawns. 


ANNIE GUEST: Further north, residents from up to 18 razed Scamander homes spent another night in temporary accommodation. 


Earlier, these two men recounted their respective losses to The 7.30 Report .  


MAN: This is the house, and that was the Infusion restaurant. It was beautiful, but not there now, is it? 


MAN 2: We just put cherry netting up last week. That all went. Not looking too good right now, but we're alive. 


ANNIE GUEST: The State often presumed the least affected by dry conditions has become the fire season's worst casualty so far. 


But serious blazes continue in several States, including Victoria, where firefighters spent the night back-burning and building containment lines against parts of a 250-kilometre firefront. 


The Prime Minister, John Howard, is particularly concerned about the timing of the blazes. 


JOHN HOWARD: Here we are, the 13th of December, and they've started so early. Now, that's a concern. But the good news is that we have lots of wonderful men and women who can put up great resistance. 


ANNIE GUEST: Tasmanian Chief Fire Controller, John Gledhill, says resources are taxed Australia-wide, stymieing interstate collaboration. 


JOHN GLEDHILL: We've all got issues to deal with at home, and at this stage it's not going to be possible to exchange people like we have in previous years. 


ANNIE GUEST: It's prompted Victorian authorities to investigate flying in 100 United States firefighters. 


The Environment Department's spokesman, Craig Ferguson, says they're on stand-by. 


CRAIG FERGUSON: If the fire conditions worsen considerably, then there's potential that we would bring firefighters from America over to support us, as we supported them earlier this year. 


ANNIE GUEST: Meanwhile, the Prime Minister will visit the worst hit areas today. 


His visit comes ahead of an expected worsening in hot, dry and windy conditions in the south-eastern States tomorrow. 


PETER CAVE: Annie Guest reporting.