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Byron Shire
June 15, 2021

Tamara Smith MP thanks the RFS in Parliament

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Ballina MP Tamara Smith

Member for Ballina Tamara Smith has this morning made a speech in Parliament, commending the brigades of the Rural Fire Service.

‘Today I formally acknowledge the Rural Fire Service captains and volunteers within the Ballina Electorate for their exemplary management of the emergency situations across the state and the Northern Rivers area this bushfire season,’ she said.

‘Specifically, I acknowledge the efforts of each of the Rural Fire Service brigades in the Ballina electorate: Alstonville; Billinudgel/Ocean Shores; Byron Bay; Federal; Lennox Head; Main Arm; Meerschaum Vale; Mullumbimby; Newrybar; Wardell and Wilsons Creek.’

Ms Smith says she experienced the work of volunteers when she joined in a door-knock with the RFS, police and the Salvation Army when the Mount Nardi fires threatened the communities of Main Arm, Upper Main Arm, Rosebank and Federal. ‘I saw first-hand the incredible work of our firefighters preparing communities for fire and evacuation.

Important to acknowledge the RFS

Ms Smith says it is important to acknowledge the service. ‘The Rural Fire Service is made up of men and women volunteers who risk their lives and give up their own time and time with their own families to protect their neighbours and other communities across the state,’ she said this morning after her parliamentary speech.

‘They are the very definition of heroism. That is why we saw so many people pay their respects at the State Memorial Service last weekend to the firefighters who lost their lives this summer heroically protecting communities – RFS volunteers Geoffrey Keaton, Andrew O’Dwyer and Samuel McPaul and three volunteer firefighters from the United States, Captain Ian McBeth, first officer Paul Hudson and flight engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr.

The days of volunteers shouldering the load are numbered

Ms Smith says that with a warmer planet, ever longer fire seasons and harsher fires, the days of volunteers shouldering the load of catastrophic fires are numbered. ‘Like the State of California, we will need to move to a huge coordinated state and federal approach to managing bushfires and we need to allocate far greater resources towards fire mitigation and technology for fighting fires that does not risk the lives of our volunteers.’

Ms Smith said this morning that there are things we can all do to help the RFS. ‘Volunteer or donate directly to your local brigade and leave your property if you are in a hazardous area when you are advised to,’ she said. ‘I was shocked last November to be standing on a ridge in Rosebank with a young family at their property with fires literally less than 1 km away and visible on the next ridge and the husband was not planning to leave the property – he said I will go when the fireys tell me to go.

‘This was a property on a narrow road with no other means of escape. This risks so many lives. Honestly though, I think all of us having watched the devastation across the east coast this fire season will not be so cavalier in the future.’

During her speech Ms Smith said she wanted to commend the personnel from the brigades who defended our communities as well as those adjacent and across the state. ‘Their management and response to the protracted bushfire season was exemplary and I acknowledge and thank each and every person within these brigades who helped keep ours and other communities safe.’

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  1. Sitting State member for Ballina Tamara Smith stood to her feet and lit up the parliament in gratitude that the Ballina community could not do as they have not the political power to do so.
    Tamara Smith in true words and wit acted and spoke like a parliament whip as she did what the Labor Opposition did not do. She did it for them as they stayed mute, still and speechless. Tamara Smith, for the community of Ballina thanked the Rural Fire Service, in all seriousness with community strength and guile all behind her even though many trees, foliage, undergrowth, homes and koalas, all bared, were lost and disappeared into the flames, and hot embers and blown away by the winds that tossed the ciders high upwards into the atmosphere and were lost to this Ballina community. She thanked them, the men and women who sweated and strained at the end of the hose, the Rural Fire Service people, the men and women hour after hour as they toiled to save this Ballina place. Tamara Smith whole-heartedly even though she is young and green she did what Labor should have done. Tamara Smith although many members of the community are down and in mourning, she did it for them, and she won the hearts of many, for the people of Ballina.

  2. If there is one group that is responsible for the fires and ALL its consequences it is the Greens. She should be offering her apologies to the people of Australia and resigning in the same manner as the De Natalie who saw the writing on the wall with the Royal Commission. Like a rat leaving a sinking ship.

  3. Also William the firies gave statements multiple times over the course of the past couple of months on the news with respect to that exact comment, especially because people were accusing the Greens of politicising the events to deflect from the fact they triaged the country, threw Australia under the bus, refused to listen to warnings from experts, Gladys told experts she’s invited not to speak basically… we could go on for pages .

    ‘due to shorter winters, less precipitation & general weather conditions & changes, they have not been able to properly back burn properly for years’. It has not been the right conditions.

    We’re all grieving mate. In our own ways. Looking for answers & resolutions. Personally, I a bit over spontaneous bursting into tears when I look at the trees in the garden & think about all of the ancient forest families we have lost or every time I see a photo of a hairy bear.
    Especially after watching that program on Sunday night. Still processing.

    I can not begin to imagine what this country would look like without the Greens actively advocating for change. With the animal activist groups, Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd, Bob Brown Foundation & the combined efforts of so many people who care.

    I voted Greens when they first won the seat in Newtown/Marrickville.. just before I came up here to live. I remember my entire spine tingled as I was filling in the ballot paper.
    Just one of those moments!

    Really, we have a lot to thank these groups for.


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