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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 213

Mr WILSON (O'Connor) (16:16): Today I rise to commend the efforts of firefighters and support personnel who worked tirelessly over the past few weeks to fight two uncontrollable bushfires in my electorate of O'Connor. Last Thursday I visited Pemberton—where residents of the township of Northcliffe had been evacuated to the Pemberton sports centre—while over 250 firefighters waged a ground battle in the tall timber of the karri forest and an aerial assault by water bombers and helicopters tankers continued.

Several dairies and many farms, sheds and dwellings, as well as the township of Northcliffe, were saved from certain devastation as the fire swept through over 80,000 hectares of forest and pasture. I congratulate the tireless work of incident controller, Greg Mair, and his staff at the Department of Parks and Wildlife who were near exhaustion when he briefed me on the situation while touring the incident headquarters in Pemberton.

I applaud the coordinated efforts of the emergency services, ambulance, fire and police together with support organisations including Telstra, the Department of Agriculture, representatives from the departments of social services, health and education, Western Power and the Shire of Manjimup. I also commend Manjimup Shire President Wade de Campo and CEO Andrew Campbell for their compassionate leadership in this crisis.

On Friday WA Premier Colin Barnett declared the area a natural disaster activating the joint Commonwealth-state Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, NDRRA, and paving the way for emergency financial assistance and longer-term funding of restoration of lost infrastructure. I would also like to thank those unsung heroes, the members of the CWA and community members, who provided food for the firefighters, took in displaced families and their pets, or made donations of hay and animal feed.