Australian Bushfires Condolence Motion

05 Feb 2020 speech

Ms FLINT (BoothbyGovernment Whip) (13:22): Each and every summer, residents in the Mitcham Hills area of my electorate are on high alert for bushfires, and none more so than our Sturt CFS Group volunteers. The reason people love living in areas like Belair, Blackwood, Glenalta, Bellevue Heights, Eden Hills and Lynton is the beautiful bushland, which is the same reason they need to be on high alert for bushfires each and every summer. We are fortunate to have not been directly affected by the terrible fires that have devastated the Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island, the south-east and Yorke Peninsula this year and so many other parts of Australia over recent months. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered great tragedies, with 33 lives lost, including those of six volunteer firefighters; homes and businesses destroyed; and wildlife and native bushland ravaged.

In these unprecedented and tragic bushfires, nature has shown us its very worst, but Australians have shown us their very best. Some of these Australians include my local Country Fire Service volunteers, and I wish to acknowledge and commend all the members of the Sturt group for their contributions. The group, led by Group Officer Dale Thompson and Deputy Group Captains David Sims and Chris Smith, have coordinated our local volunteers to support firefighting efforts across South Australia and interstate. Many volunteers from the Sturt group battled fires in New South Wales and on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia late last year, and I reported their significant efforts to the House just before Christmas. Since then, the Sturt CFS Group volunteers have not slowed down. The Blackwood brigade, led by Captain Jamie Emsweiler; the Belair brigade, led by Captain Mark Brooks; the Eden Hills brigade, led by Captain Ben Gloyn; the Coromandel Valley brigade, led by Captain Rowan Clark; and the Cherry Gardens brigade, led by Captain Lawrie Lingood, have assisted to fight and contain fires interstate and in South Australia. During the Cudlee Creek fire in the Adelaide hills, the Sturt CFS brigade provided eight full rotations of strike teams, which translated to 272 personnel, five appliances, one bulk water carrier and command vehicles. The Sturt CFS Group also sent 84 personnel to Kangaroo Island, as well as three appliances and a specialist compressed air foam system. I would like to commend the entire Sturt CFS Group for their bravery, selflessness and sacrifice. Their tireless work has saved countless lives, animals and bushland.

Elsewhere, many local Defence Force reservists, including those based at the Warradale Barracks in our electorate, answered the call to assist. We know this is a very unusual deployment for them and they have faced very difficult conditions. I want to acknowledge their incredible efforts and those of our full-time Defence Force personnel supporting communities in the most desperate of need. I also want to acknowledge the businesses and local community groups in Boothby who have assisted. The Brighton Walk to Support raised funds for the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund. Traders on Jetty Road Brighton came together to support the walk and fundraising efforts by donating a portion of the entire day's trade to the bushfire effort. Together they raised $3,150 on the day and $7,325 when combined with online donations.

At the other end of the electorate, the Blackwood Football Club, thanks to Franca Williams, President Kris Winchester and members, held a bushfire fundraiser for those affected by the Adelaide Hills fires, raising an incredible $23,000. And it doesn't end there. A bushfire relief quiz night fundraiser organised by Gail Miller will be held at the Belair Community Centre on 22 February, with 100 per cent of the funds raised going directly to support those impacted by the Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills fires. The Boothby community has generously assisted their fellow South Australians in their time of need. Finally, I want to acknowledge my colleagues the members for Mayo, Barker and Grey and their staff and all the other colleagues around Australia who have worked so hard to support their communities through these terrible fires.

All Australians can support the South Australian recovery effort through SA Tourism's #BookThemOut campaign, by booking out accommodation, restaurants and other businesses impacted by the fires. If you've been thinking about visiting the hills or KI, there is no better time to do so. Even if you weren't thinking about visiting these regions, there is still time to do so. If you can't visit, then please get online and buy some local produce instead.

In closing, I want to again commend the outstanding work of our first responders, Defence reservists, Defence personnel and of course our volunteer firefighters for their tireless and invaluable efforts, and I send my thoughts and prayers to all communities affected by these terrible fires across Australia.