Bushfires

(Public Interest Debate, 13 November 2019, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

I thank the member for Blue Mountains for bringing this important public interest debate to the Parliament and acknowledge her leadership and the support that she and her office are providing the Blue Mountains community during these bushfires. Indeed, I acknowledge all members and their staff for the amazing work they are doing. Across Sydney our hearts are with all the communities impacted by these devastating bushfires. Many Sydneysiders come from those communities, and many have family and friends suffering as a result of them. We are all grateful to the emergency services officers and volunteers working around the clock. Everyone impacted should know that Sydneysiders are here to help however we can.

I understand that this week the Lord Mayor of Sydney will propose that the City of Sydney mobilise urgent funds to assist bushfire- and drought-affected communities, and will also offer direct council resources such as water and waste collection trucks to support the firefighting efforts and affected communities. The city is also looking at ways to promote the Buy Regional this Christmas campaign and regional tourism to help mitigate the economic impact of these devastating events. The lord mayor has acknowledged the severity of these bushfires and indicated that the City of Sydney is prepared to make further contributions and assist in any other way possible. As the Minister for Local Government said in question time this week, many councils, whether directly impacted or not, are taking leading roles. I thank the Premier, the Government and all agencies responding to this state of emergency for their leadership during the bushfires. I have never seen a more effective and responsive communications strategy during a crisis. People across the State are getting the information they need when they need it through multiple accessible channels.

I thank the Parliament for the largely respectful and thoughtful way in which this issue has been handled. It is in stark contrast to some of our Federal colleagues. It will be important—and this is clearly not over—to have a full and thorough review of the response to these bushfires so we can learn and improve. That is something everyone always seeks to do. One thing we all should know—particularly inner city MPs like me—is despite our politics we can all do better to advocate for and support people in rural and regional New South Wales. Pointing the finger does not save lives, homes or habitats. We can all play a part in working to do and learn more, whether it is through taking action on climate change, supporting campaigns to buy from the bush or taking time to understand the intense way people have been impacted by the bushfires to truly understand the fear and devastation they are facing, as I and others have done. I thank the member for Blue Mountains for bringing this public interest debate to the House and offer the support of my constituents to all those impacted through any way we can help.