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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 13888

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:00): I express our deepest sympathy and condolences for the two victims of the devastating South Australian bushfires. There are now also over 13 people in hospital and there are grave concerns held for at least five who are in a critical condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Late last night I spoke to both the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, and the opposition leader, Steven Marshall, to say that we stand ready to assist in whatever way we can during this tragedy. I know that the Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, has been in close touch with the South Australian authorities.

While conditions have eased, and the emergency warning has been downgraded overnight for Pinery, we know these situations are very unpredictable and we will remain in the closest contact with the authorities in South Australia. People need to stay vigilant and monitor closely the advice from the emergency services, and provided over the ABC.

The bushfire season is upon us, as we know. Our Australian summer is challenging, unpredictable and often, as we have seen just in this week, very cruel. I want to pay tribute and record our great admiration and thanks to the firefighters, and their crews, who are tackling the South Australian fires. The nation is in debt to the bravery of our professional firefighters and the volunteers who put their lives at risk again and again to protect their communities. Other states are always helping and they are helping here, with Victoria providing crews and New South Wales aerial support overnight. Defence has also provided a refuelling support at the RAAF Base at Edinburgh.

As I said earlier this week, the bushfire season has arrived early this year in many parts of Australia, and it just reinforces the fact that all of us have to be very, very vigilant and take care to protect our lives and property, and those of our neighbours, in the weeks and months ahead.