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Minister thanks firefighters
In a speech made in Parliament yesterday, Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith thanked everyone involved in fighting the current fires for their dedication and incredible efforts.
Read Minister Smith's speech below.
On the fourth anniversary of Black Saturday and after two years of milder summers, some of our country communities are again facing the threat of bushfire and so far this season, we’ve seen over 470 fires on public land that have burnt in excess of 106,000 hectares. We’ve seen an active fire in the west of the state at Kentbruck, a fire that is now largely contained and is being monitored and patrolled during this high risk period and we’ve all seen the images of the Aberfeldy fires in Victoria’s east that have been burning for over three weeks now and burnt through over 74,000 hectares and that particular fire increased dramatically in size in its very early stages.
The Harrietville fire is also very active, having burnt through over 9,800 hectares and there’s currently around 470 DSE, Parks Victoria and CFA firefighters deployed at this fire and they’re supported by ten aircraft and I understand that the New South Wales services have positioned an additional aircrane at Wagga Wagga for our use if necessary, and we certainly thank them for that assistance and it’s a credit to all fire agencies across this country, in every state, who are prepared to chip in and help each other when it’s needed.
And I’d like to just take the opportunity to just echo the words of the Premier, who made some comments a few days ago and offer my condolences to the family of Peter Cramer, the DSE firefighter who lost his life while on deployment in Tasmania as part of the DSE team assisting with the fires over there.
This is also a great opportunity to thank the many DSE and Parks Victoria firefighters, along with CFA colleagues, who have been working night and day in past weeks to help protect communities in those areas and we see this fire season we have 1400 trained firefigthters across Victoria who are supported by 600 project firefighters and all those firefighters are working together to help protect communities and many of those firefighters are part of the Black Saturday bushfires and the work that they did there was just absolutely incredible.
I recently visited the Traralgon Regional Control Centre, they Heyfield Incident Control Centre and the Heyfield base camp and I have to say that you cannot help but be impressed by the professionalism of those people, the commitment to their roles and the seamless ability for those different agencies to work together and my visit there coincided with work that they’d done the night before in securing the township of Walhalla from the fires that were expected to come as a result of the high fire danger risk that they had on the day that I visited, and there was certainly a justifiable pride amongst the team there for the work that they’d done.
Our firefighters are also supported by an amazing logistics team – those people that man the base camp and make sure that the firefighters are well-rested and fed and there’s also a number who run community meetings and make sure that communities are aware of any potential risk and I also have to say that a great deal of work goes into alerting communities and the media outlets who have been involved out there and have spread the word are a great part of that and we certainly thank them for keeping those communities informed.
There are still a number of weeks left in the bushfire season and the temperatures we’re experiencing today show us that we can’t be complacent when we do prepare for bushfire risk and while we can never prevent bushfire, certainly this government remains committed to implementing all of the Bushfire Royal Commission’s recommendations and we’ll endeavour to take all precautions we can to reduce that risk. The planned burning program, Speaker, remains a top priority for this government and again, the ambitious target set for us by the Bushfire Royal Commission would not be possible if not for the work of the DSE, the CFA and the Parks Victoria firefighters.
On behalf of the Government, of members of this House and certainly on behalf of all Victorians, we thank them for their dedication.