Parliamentary Committees (Natural Disasters Committee) Amendment Bill


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (10:46): I will speak very briefly because I understand that we have three other very important pieces of private member's business to get to this morning. I strongly support the Hon. Iain Evans' (the member for Davenport) motion. I put on the record that I am an active CFS volunteer member, and I certainly have an interest in this issue, but I certainly support it far more broadly than just because of my interest.

The Natural Resources Committee has done an inquiry into this issue. We will speak at greater length on that inquiry another time, but I would just like to point out that this is not just a country issue: this is a country and metropolitan-fringe issue (as the people in Canberra can attest and as the people at the edges of Sydney can attest), but certainly it is a country and outback areas issue as well.

We have recently seen fires in the north-east of South Australia that were in the Northern Territory and Queensland as well. Those fires, in fact, burnt out an area in excess of the area of the whole state of Tasmania. There have been lots of other disasters as well. I understand that this motion is not just about fires—it includes all natural disasters, including flooding, and earthquakes.

With regard to fires, I would like particularly to put on the record my thanks on behalf of the people of Stuart to all those CFS volunteers who joined strike teams, left home and went up to Queensland, the Northern Territory and the far north-east pastoral area of South Australia to help with those recent fires up there because, without that sort of dedication and commitment, fires all over the state and the nation would not be put out nearly as quickly Thank you very much to all those people.

This motion is particularly important given our recent experience in Queensland with floods. We all remember the earthquake in Newcastle many years ago, and, certainly, the devastating experience in the Adelaide Hills is in everyone's mind as well. Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and the ACT have all had devastating experiences with natural disasters, and we have seen very recently the difficulties at Payney Station when, trying to do a burn-out, DENR staff (in the words of some CFS members) 'significantly over-achieved' and had issues there.

I strongly support the member for Davenport's motion. The government did not support his last motion, which was only into bushfires. I hope that the government will support his motion, which is to establish a standing committee into natural disasters.


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