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Parliamentary tribute to bushfire fighters.

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13 February 2002 A14/2002


The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, today paid tribute in Federal Parliament to those involved in the January bushfires that devastated New South Wales.

Mr Anderson spoke of the volunteer spirit that worked to save the communities affected across the state, and the bravery that constantly diverted tragedy.

"It is indeed remarkable that no lives were lost, which is a great tribute to those who played so many diverse and important roles in tackling this emergency," Mr Anderson said in his speech.

Volunteer firefighters from across regional New South Wales and the rest of Australia participated, with many coming from Mr Anderson's electorate of Gwydir. Mr Anderson recalled his own experiences as a volunteer firefighter in his farm at Mullaley in acknowledging the challenges faced.

"The physical pressure and exhaustion of fighting fires under those circumstances is something that can scarcely be imagined.

"I don't claim to have been involved in the sort of exercises that were seen in places like the Shoalhaven and many other places, but I have been involved in a few firefighting exercises and I know that particularly when the weather is hot, there is nothing more debilitating."

He called for the Work for the Dole program to be involved in the future for back burning exercises.

"Work for the Dole participants could make a real contribution to the safety and well being of their communities."

The Federal Government is now looking at the possibility of a more unified approach across Australia towards aerial firefighting.

Media Contact: Duncan Bremner 02 6277 7680 / 0427 200 674