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Thursday, 10 November 1994
Page: 3112

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Mr SLIPPER (5.56 p.m.) —Honourable members who watch the news would have seen the recent bushfire» tragedy in south-east Queensland vividly portrayed. Most of the bushfires were situated in the federal electorate of Fisher. At times like this when great adversity is faced it is wonderful to see communities, councils, emergency services and people generally pulling together and working together to assist those who are having difficult times.

  The tragedy could have been infinitely worse had these facilities and this cooperation not existed. Had the wind not changed, a major tragedy could have become a monumental tragedy. Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes at Bribie Island, Beerwah and elsewhere. If it were not for the commonsense of those in charge, the situation could have been terrible indeed.

  I have asked the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) on notice whether his attention has been drawn to this «bushfire tragedy which saw evacuations, at least 13 homes lost and a declaration of a state of emergency. I have also drawn his attention to the danger of more bushfires occurring and the resultant potential catastrophe. I have asked whether he or a representative would visit the affected areas to inspect the damage. I have also asked the government to consider providing assistance to those who have been afflicted as a result of the bushfires. I have not yet heard from the Prime Minister, but I am hoping the government will favourably consider the difficulties being experienced by a very large number of people in south-east Queensland.

  It is interesting to note that during times of great tragedy we often find great bravery. We have a large number of firemen, some of whom are volunteers and some of whom are members of the fire service. Fortunately, at this stage there has not been any loss of life in the Queensland bushfires. I would also like to pay tribute to the members of the Palmwoods Volunteer Fire Brigade for their bravery and for what they achieved without regard to the danger posed to their own lives.

  In particular, I will mention one of the volunteers, Clive Gauldie, who was responsible for saving the life of one of his colleagues, Neil Dingwall, who had joined the fire brigade less than 24 hours earlier. According to a local newspaper article, a Palmwoods volunteer firefighter was running for his life through a fireball on Tuesday when he stopped to take a burning colleague by the hand and lead him from the inferno. That firefighter was Clive Gauldie.

  During times of war and civil tragedy we find great bravery. The fact that Neil Dingwall's life was saved is a great tribute to the bravery of Clive Gauldie and others who risk their lives in their jobs. It should be recognised that more services need to be provided to rural brigades to enable them to fight bushfires.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 6.00 p.m., the debate is interrupted.

Mr Duncan —Mr Speaker, I require that the debate be extended.

Mr SPEAKER —The debate may continue until 6.10 p.m.