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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13252

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:14): I rise on indulgence. The president of the Esperance Shire, Victoria Brown, called it 'The day from hell,': farms and crops reduced to ashes, homes, sheds and wheat bins destroyed and four lives lost. Our hearts go out to their families, friends and loved ones today.

Three of those who perished were international visitors, two from Germany and one from Norway, all working on Karranga Station. Kym Curnow was the fourth, a farmer who had been driving around the district warning others of the approaching fire. It was an act of selflessness that cost him his life. Kym was a volunteer firefighter with the Scaddan Bush Fire Brigade. Brigade chief Gavin Egan said Kym was the one bloke no-one could say a bad word about. Even as they mourn the loss of their friend, the Skadden brigade are continuing the clean-up. We have brief moments where we get emotional,' Gavin says, 'but we just have to carry on.' We pay tribute today to the work of all the firefighters who saved more than 100 homes from the flames, and we salute the generosity of all those Australians who have offered assistance to those in need.

In 1939 when Judge Leonard Stretton concluded his report on the Black Friday bushfires of that year he wrote, 'They had not lived long enough.' This was not just a lament for the dead, many who lost their lives far too young, it was a comment on our whole nation, unprepared for the speed and ferocity of a fire that engulfed communities. In 2015 we have lived longer. We understand the ever-present danger of bushfires. We know the need to be prepared. But on a dry continent like ours we will never live long enough. Summer in Australia will always be a bushfire season. We will always need to take care. We urge all Australians to get their fire plans in place to look after themselves and their families this summer.