Thank you very much Mr Speaker.
Flood, fire and drought are an inevitable part of living in our country.
We don’t always know where natural disasters will strike.
Only that they will.
That inevitability does nothing though, to diminish the shock and the sadness of the crushing news that Australians have lost their lives during these latest floods.
On behalf of the Coalition, we express our heartfelt condolences to the families who have tragically lost loved ones in these floods.
It has been an incredibly tough time for people in Victoria, in New South Wales, in Tasmania and Queensland.
As we know, in some places, thankfully, the waters are receding.
But in other places, they’re rising.
Australians are entering, going through, or emerging from their darkest hours.
Yet it’s in these darkest hours that we witness the very best of the Australian character – our courage, our compassion and the camaraderie.
I was very honoured to be in Shepparton last week with the Member for Nicholls to see those qualities on display firsthand.
Many of those in the local community, who were instrumental in supporting the effort to respond and to recover.
People who were volunteers, just ordinary Australians working for GV Cares and the Salvos, distributing food and necessities to families who were isolated and had gone without.
And people, of course, like Azem Elmaz who shut his restaurant and had been cooking meals with his wife for workers, volunteers and affected residents.
I want to praise, acknowledge and thank all of those across the nation who are doing such fine work:
The emergency service workers, the police, the first responders who always come to the aid of communities – especially those who have crossed borders to help their brothers and sisters in uniform…
The men and women of the Australian Defence Force who answer the call on every single occasion, injecting hope and confidence when they move into towns…
And the local councillors, the community leaders and volunteers who assist others while their own homes have been inundated.
Your combined efforts have seen people rescued, food and medical supplies provided to those cut off, and homes and businesses saved.
Particularly, I want to acknowledge the efforts of the Members for Parkes, for Riverina, for Lindsay, Mallee, Farrer, Braddon and Bass who are currently supporting, or have supported in recent times their communities due to flooding.
For those Australians facing the prospect of rising waters, please continue to heed the advice of emergency services, especially given rain forecasts and a likely wet Summer ahead.
Long after the waters have receded, the clean-up has commenced, and the cameras have moved on, communities will need ongoing support for the slow and costly recovery.
I want to acknowledge the work of the former Prime Minister, Prime Minister Morrison and the emergency service ministers who put in place the regime that Prime Minister Albanese referred to before.
The support that we provide to communities, hand in glove with our state counterparts and local government authorities – that support makes a real difference in the hours, the days, the weeks and the months in the aftermath of these natural disasters.
Infrastructure and homes will need to be rebuilt, fences replaced, roads repaired.
In the aftermath of a disaster, Australians can feel like they’re on their own – that they have been forgotten by governments.
The Coalition encourages governments at all levels to be generous in the assistance they offer.
We provide our bipartisan support to the Prime Minister, to the government, to see that support delivered in an effective way to those affected by this natural disaster.
Not just in the current response phase, but also in the all-important recovery phase over the days, months and, in some cases, many years ahead.