February 06, 2020














 I, too, like many others in this place, rise to lend my voice on this motion offering condolences to those who lost their lives, their loved ones and their livelihoods during these devastating bushfires, as they continue to burn. Australia, I often say, is a land of contradictions: of wet and dry, of deserts and rainforests, of blistering heat and snowy mountains, of droughts and flooding rains. But, when it comes to the heart of Australia, when it comes to her people, there is no contradiction. We are one. And, as the song goes, we sing with one voice. We saw that over this terrible summer, in the response to these devastating fires across Australia.

As you know, I'm from Western Australia, and we were on the other side from those devastating fires on the eastern coast. For many of us in Western Australia—and I speak particularly also of many in my community of Cowan who approached me—there was a sense of helplessness, of: 'What could we do? What could we possibly do to make a difference to the lives of those who are hurting over in the eastern states?' The Cowan community came together, in ways that other communities right across Australia came together, in this show of solidarity. We had, for example, the Joondalup Health Campus raising money in its staff dining room. We had our local knitting group, Laurin Lang and the knitting ladies, who meet at my local shopping centre every Tuesday, knitting for the animals. A young lady named Jayde Macintosh put a post on Facebook asking for people to come together on a day and sew pouches for the animals that were harmed in the bushfires. My local IGA had a donation box. And in Perth's sleepy northern suburbs in Cowan, we all banded together to do what we could to help those who were so devastatingly affected by those fires.

While bushfires have ravaged and continue to ravage the east coast, I want to also make mention of those fires that also ravaged parts of Western Australia. In Yanchep, for example, 6,000 homes were saved as fires burned through 13,000 hectares. Yanchep is not in my electorate of Cowan; it is in the neighbouring electorate of Pearce, the Attorney-General's electorate. Nonetheless, the Cowan community came together during that fire crisis as well. On 2 February, the City of Wanneroo had a Yanchep Fire Thankyou Day. During the Yanchep fires, we saw the Yanchep Volunteer Fire and Rescue service, the Two Rocks Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade, the Quinns Rocks Bush Fire Brigade, the Wanneroo Central Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade and the Wanneroo fire support brigade come together. I want to thank those groups for the work they did in ensuring that the Yanchep fires weren't as devastating as they possibly could be.

I also want to make special mention of the mayor of Wanneroo, Mayor Tracey Roberts, who kept the entire communities of Yanchep, Two Rocks and Wanneroo updated through her consistent Facebook posts and who was there every single day on the front line, making sure that people were evacuated and that they knew what to do in the fires, and helping with the fire rescue efforts. Of course there were other fires in Western Australia, in Collie and Norseman and other places across Western Australia. But, as I mentioned, none were as devastating as the fires were in the eastern states.

Much has been and will be said about this moment in our nation's history. There'll be stories written, poems dedicated and artworks created, and of course a lot of reflection. I hope that in the coming months we learn the lessons about the need to act on climate change, which contributed to the intensity and severity of these fires and will continue to do so.

But most of all I hope that the stories that endure are the ones that tell of the bravery and the sacrifice of our firefighters and the stories of how a country came together; the stories of our international friends who reached across the oceans in our times of need; the stories of the communities of Muslims and Sikhs and other community groups who drove 600 kilometres with supplies for those who were affected by the bushfires; the stories of the local communities thousands of kilometres away from the bushfires who watched their country burn, igniting in them their compassion for their country and for her people.


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