Today has been called the “D-Day” for fire-fighters and property owners battling the biggest fire crisis facing New South Wales in decades.
Whether or not you have loved ones or own property caught amongst the billowing smoke and wild fires tearing through our state, everyone in New South Wales and Australia will return to their newspaper websites, radios and televisions today in the search for updates on the fire situation.
About 55 volunteers from our own region will be among those on the frontlines, battling the blazes to save lives, livestock and property.
Closer to home, the generous spirit of the people across New England has never been more apparent in my own electorate office.
We have received enquiries from constituents over the past few days ranging from a farmer hoping to donate his tractor, an elderly woman wanting to donate blankets and food supplies and countless offers of financial support.
We only expect these kind offers to increase in the coming days.
While the full extent of damage caused by the bushfires is still unfolding, the Commonwealth payment of $1,000 per eligible adult and $400 per eligible child will assist those already affected, particularly those who have lost their homes or suffered serious damage, are seriously injured or have lost an immediate family member.
The Federal Government will also continue to assess whether broader relief and recovery assistance may be needed. We will work closely with the NSW Government to ensure the recovery needs of the affected communities are met.
The focus today must remain on the protection of lives and property. But there will be important questions to consider once the final fires are extinguished and the rebuilding process commences. I will support a comprehensive review of hazard reduction strategies in the coming months.
Having lived through record floods during my decades at St George, I am well aware the only way forward following a tragedy is to search for better ways to prevent, plan for and manage the disaster event.
In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with all those across New South Wales who are working around the clock to protect their property and those selfless volunteers travelling far from their own homes and proving the resilient spirit is still alive and well across our nation.