Bushfires

(Public Interest Debate, 26 February 2020, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

I support the member for Wagga Wagga's motion today. I start by expressing both my constituents and my condolences for those who have lost their lives and for those communities that have been so seriously impacted. In the inner city areas we only know from hearing from friends or listening to relatives what that devastation has been like in communities across New South Wales during this bushfire season. The member for Wagga Wagga many times has shared that experience in this Chamber and with me and I am grateful for his advocacy for his community and for sharing with me what that experience was like. We have really seen throughout this tragic bushfire season the love that members, including those who have spoken before me, have for their electorates and their closeness to their people, wanting to do everything they can to support them in every way possible.

My constituents and I stand with you all to support them in any way we can. Every community group I can think of in the Sydney electorate has run fundraisers to support efforts, done things for WIRES, knitting possum homes, through to a variety of dinners and other relief efforts. We are here to support in any other way that we can in the future. Like every member here, my office has received correspondence from people concerned about a number of impacts, including air quality, the loss of flora and fauna, the loss of biodiversity, and the impacts on agriculture, tourism and regional communities. The letters, emails and calls I have received have been underpinned by a fear that we need to do more to address climate change, but also that we need to do everything we can to support the recovery efforts that are underway and that will need to continue.

We all hope that we do not see fires of such intensity again, but we cannot guarantee that that will happen. We all need to do more and continue to be more prepared. The member for Wagga Wagga, particularly for his community, has laid out a clear and appropriate plan which is based on consultation with his constituents. He would like to see a comprehensive and timely clean-up occur. He would like to see the support for the health and wellbeing of residents impacted in the long term. He wants to address the short, medium and long-term economic impacts and he wants to seek to prepare communities for the increasing intensity of bushfires forecast in the future.

This motion is based on his consultation with and his listening to his community about their needs now and into the future. It is an entirely appropriate use of this Parliament's time to reinforce and support that. On behalf of my constituents, I am here to do that. It is important, following what the member for Lake Macquarie said, that with this motion we put to rest the debate about the impact of climate change. The motion expressly recognises that impact. We need to do everything that we can to see a reduction in emissions and to curb global warming so we do not see these hot and dangerous temperatures. We can do that at the same time as we are leading recovery efforts and supporting those communities who desperately need that support.

I thank the member for Wagga Wagga for bringing this motion. I thank him and all the other members for their dedication to their communities. I again offer on behalf of the constituents of Sydney our help and support in any way whatsoever that is needed.