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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3120

Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (13:42): Today I pay tribute to the incredibly hardworking firefighters who have been battling blazes in the Hunter Valley and in my electorate in Port Stephens in the past few days. It is so early in what we routinely call the firefighting season, and yet we have had properties and lives already at risk. Incredibly and thankfully, the worst has been averted. At Cessnock, Heddon Greta, Karuah, Swan Bay and Medowie, fires have been burning since Saturday. New South Wales fire brigade crews and Rural Fire Service volunteers have been working around the clock to keep people and their properties safe.

I know there are many people in our community who are incredibly grateful for this concentrated, coordinated work by fire crews, and I add my voice to theirs. We live in a beautiful country, but it is dangerous, and these firefighters make it that little bit safer for us all. At frightening times it is reassuring to hear the fire engines, to see in our skies the water bombers and helicopters and aircraft dumping fire retardant, and to have on the ground men and women who go into battle at the fire front to keep us all safe.

I also want to thank the emergency crews from Ausgrid who are working to get the power back on and keep it on, and the support organisations who keep everyone fed, watered, fuelled and able to keep on working so hard. Our community is in your debt, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.