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Monday, 19 March 2018
Page: 1391

Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryMinister for Indigenous Affairs and Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:10): by leave—On behalf of the Nationals I join with the Leader of the Government, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and leaders of other parties in this place to acknowledge the natural disasters currently impacting upon many parts of our country. The bushfires have devastated a number of communities and have resulted in the destruction of schools and property around Victoria as well as the New South Wales coast. We should reflect for a minute that these are very small communities. Almost no-one who lives in these communities is not known to everyone else, along with their houses and properties. These events have a huge impact on small communities. I take this opportunity to add my tribute to the remarkable fire crews of the CFA in Victoria and the fire crews who work round the clock in New South Wales.

As a senator for the Northern Territory I also acknowledge the impact Tropical Cyclone Marcus has had and continues to have on residents of Darwin, Palmerston, Coolalinga, Batchelor, Litchfield, the Tiwi Islands and a number of communities right across the Cobourg Peninsula. At its peak Tropical Cyclone Marcus was categorised as a category 2 system. The eye of the cyclone passed over the Darwin region, with winds in excess of 164 kilometres per hour, which caused power outages across Darwin and brought down trees, blocking roads. My latest advice is that Tropical Cyclone Marcus is now moving towards the north-west Kimberley. As you can imagine, the tropical cyclone has left behind a path of destruction in the Greater Darwin region. Hundreds—in fact, probably thousands—of trees have fallen, and many power lines have been downed. There have been widespread power outages. Power has now been restored to 11,000 customers, but 18,000 remain without power, including the majority of the schools in the Darwin area. I'm advised that around half of Darwin's traffic lights still remain out, so we urge caution on the roads. Until further notice I understand that there's some advice about boiling water, due to the damage to the water infrastructure.

I acknowledge the Australian Department of Defence has also provided some emergency clean-up assistance immediately. On behalf of the Northern Territory and Darwin, please pass on my thanks to those Defence personnel. It's a very difficult time. I urge all Territorians to be patient and calm as authorities coordinate the clean-up effort. I encourage everyone to give each other a hand. As Senator Di Natale has indicated, it is wonderful that, in the worst of circumstances, the best of people come out. I acknowledge and thank the Northern Territory police, fire, ambulance and other emergency service personnel, as well as all the volunteers that have come out of the woodwork, for their work at this difficult time. It is such a huge relief that we've experienced no loss of life as a result of any of these disasters so far. I implore everyone to heed the advice of the authorities, and apart from that, go to the ABC. People can keep up to date with the latest advice from the Northern Territory government, Emergency Management Victoria and Emergency New South Wales websites.