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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 337 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Guises Creek, I know, had units out. In fact, one chap was out for nine days in a row, and he came back volunteering his own time at Christmas, time and time again. Those stories need to be told and made public, because most of the volunteers would not seek recognition. They do it for love, for fun, for excitement, because they care about their community, but they do come back time and time again.

The other thing that is never mentioned is the stand-up. The volunteers spent a lot of time stood up-we called it stand-up-in the expectation they might have to go to a fire but for large periods did not go anywhere. It is long and arduous, and you can imagine that the stories told get bigger and bigger. Stand-up is important. Always remember those who did not get to a fire. They serve a very important role. If there is another fire somewhere else, those units that are in reserve have to go.

On the day in question, Christmas Eve, I think every unit in the brigades, whether urbans or volunteers, was out on the ground and they were backed up very well by Emergency Services, the police and any number of other community groups that Mr Quinlan has kindly listed in his document. It is great to see the cross-section of the public service, the community and some small businesses offering services on a fee basis. It certainly says that the community cares and is willing to work together.

To the brigades-Guises, Southern, Jerra, Rivers, Molonglo, Hall, Gungahlin, and Tidbinbilla-I say well done. We know we are in trouble when you hear Commcen Tidbinbilla 10 standing up, because that means the Tidbinbilla brigade has dusted off their tanker and got it ready for use. I think everybody takes a deep breath when they hear that Tid 10 is standing up.

A lot of thanks has to go to those who came across the border. Sometime on Christmas Eve-it might even have been Christmas morning-a convoy of red units appeared on the Tuggeranong Parkway. Those red units that came over the border from the New South Wales volunteer brigades were very welcome at that time, because there were a number of fires burning in a number of locations. Without those units, things may well have gone somewhat differently. To the New South Wales folk who turned up on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I say thank you. To the Victorians who turned up afterwards I say thanks very much as well.

It is important-I think most people have mentioned it-not to forget the spouses, the partners and the children. A lot of kids probably did not see dad or mum on Christmas Day because dad or mum had taken Christmas lunch and ducked out to a fire, which normally is not the way you would spend Christmas. There were several hundred volunteers and people from the various departmental organisations who spent their Christmas Day looking after us. They did a tremendous job, and it is important that we say thank you to the partners who make it happen and who allow us to go and to the kids who put up with a mum or a dad who just does not appear on a very important occasion.

One group that has not been mentioned and certainly needs to be are some of the bosses around the town who do a great job in letting their employees go. Volunteers who are members of the public service have a right to go, but small business men and women around the town have employees who are in a brigade. I am not aware of any occasion when too many volunteers have not been allowed to go to a fire. Bunnings in

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