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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 213

Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (13:58): Today I rise to acknowledge and thank the amazing CFA crews of my electorate. From Macedon to Elmore, our community knows that the CFA is there if the worst occurs. One way in which we are showing our support and saying thanks is by participating in National Red Balloon Day. National Red Balloon Day will be held on 28 February, the last day of the typical fire season. Residents are encouraged to buy red balloons and to tie them to their letterboxes, gates and fences as a symbol of thanks.

Two Bendigo women, Jodie Hardiman and Aleasha Gilbert, are encouraging the community to participate in this festival. Jodie, like many on Black Saturday, was evacuated, and she said it is one of the scariest things to have happened to her and her family. These guys do it without wanting thanks and they do it because they want to protect their community.

I agree with Jodie. Bushfire season is a fact of life when you live in regional Victoria. In the back of everybody's mind every day is, 'Be ready to act, be ready to go to.' Our hearts sink when we see an alert pop up on social media or on our phones, and we feel guilt when we breathe a sigh of relief that the alert is not for our town but potentially one on the other side of the Calder.

So far in Bendigo we have been lucky, and we hope that luck continues. If our luck runs out, we know, like everyone in the Bendigo electorate, that our local CFA crews will be there—and for that we say thank you.

The SPEAKER: In accordance with standing order 43, the time for members' statements has concluded.