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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 333 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I experienced some of the fires first hand when travelling in part of New South Wales this year. It was pretty horrendous for those people driving cars through the smoke and red stuff on both sides of the road. You have to take your hat off to the people who go out and fight these things.

I am reminded of what one bloke said on the radio this morning when he was asked, "Don't you get scared?" He said, "You haven't got time to get scared. You've got a job to do. You're highly trained. You're around people who are doing it, and it doesn't actually enter your mind." Such is the stuff heroes are made of.

I add my voice to that of Mrs Dunne, who said congratulations need to go the families of those people who supported these blokes and women while they were out there doing that stuff. They not only sacrificed their own Christmas celebrations and all that sort of stuff. We are talking about a very serious bushfire system here, a really bad disaster in the making, and these families saw their loved ones go off and fight it. They would have done so with some degree of fear, and I think that needs recognition. They still did it, and their families still encouraged them to go and protect the rest of us.

If I can add my voice to the congratulations of all of those people-the fighters, their families and those support organisations that sat back in the event that we were not as successful as we were-I will be very happy.

MR STEFANIAK (11.52): Mrs Dunne and Mr Hargreaves have referred to the potential danger and the real danger faced by the members of Emergency Services, the volunteers and everyone who fought these fires. As has already been said, thankfully no lives were lost here in the ACT or in our neighbouring state, New South Wales, during the horrendous December and January bushfires. That has not always been so.

Listening to the various speeches reminded me of Malcolm Allen, who died when he was a young man. I knew him through football. Malcolm played fullback for Easts. He lived in the Queanbeyan region and was a volunteer firefighter with the Yarrowlumla shire bushfire brigade. About 20 years ago, while fighting dreadful fires in the region, Malcolm died in an accident. He left a wife and three young children. I think that is a poignant reminder of the fact that fires occur in this region and in the past they have been fatal.

The men and women of the emergency services, the volunteer services and all the other services who helped fight these fires very much put their lives on the line. It is a tribute to their skill, their dedication and their absolute courage that no lives were lost, that probably thousands of stock were saved, that relatively very little property damage was done and that some quite spectacular achievements occurred. I single out the National Zoo and Aquarium. None of the animals there were injured. I think that was quite brilliant.

Some 73 private homes directly under threat were saved. Whilst tragically some property was burnt-and we still see the scar along Lady Denman Drive, where some irreplaceable trees have gone-a large number of other important assets in the territory like the cork-oak plantation, the Himalayan cedar plantation and the Yarralumla woolshed were saved due to the brilliance and dedication of volunteers.

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