Monday, 21 December 2009

Corio Bay: Pollution

Victorian Parliament Hansard

Title: Corio Bay: pollution
Activity: Questions without Notice
Date: 11 November 2009
Page: 5309

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My question is for the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Gavin Jennings, and relates to pollution and contamination in and around Corio Bay. A Geelong resident, Mr Stan Taylor, has been concerned for a long time about apparent contamination in and around Corio Bay. With few resources, he has been collecting samples of sludge and having them analysed at his own expense. As I speak he is displaying some of those samples on the steps of this building. The initial scientific analysis suggests rates of contamination, including lead and mercury, that are very many times higher than recommended limits. I ask the minister: what does the most recent data available to the government show about the levels of contamination in and around Corio Bay?
Mr JENNINGS (Minister for Environment and Climate Change) -- I thank Mr Kavanagh for the question and the opportunity to talk about the program that is coordinated through the Environment Protection Authority in Victoria to monitor water quality right around Port Phillip Bay, and in this context that includes Corio Bay. This program has been intensified in the last two years due to the increased monitoring associated with the channel deepening program to provide confidence to the Victorian community about the condition of these important parts of the marine environment in Victoria.
I have not been privy to the private research that Mr Kavanagh refers to from Mr Taylor, but I would be very happy to receive any advice and evidence he can bring to bear for us to take account of and compare with the knowledge that has been compiled through the EPA's programs.
I am advised that none of the heavy metals Mr Kavanagh has referred to in his question are evident in quantities that would trigger any environmental alarm or concern within the community. However, I am very happy to have a look at the material Mr Taylor has provided. Heavy metal analysis is part of the program the EPA undertakes on behalf of the Victorian community, and I have received some advice recently about recent monitoring in which the heavy metals Mr Kavanagh refers to have not been evident. Indeed the only elevated feature of analysis that I have been referred to relates to oxidised nitrogen. This information is something that has probably been available in the public domain through the public release of the EPA's material, but whilst there is a heightened level of this element within the monitoring regime it is not at a level that would warrant further examination. However, it is certainly something that warrants our taking note of to be sure that we are mindful of these levels into the future.
I am told that this does not necessarily relate to the channel deepening program because heightened levels of oxidised nitrogen were discovered back in 2002 and they subsequently subsided, so I am happy to share across the chamber with Mr
Kavanagh publicly, but also privately, what information we may have available to both of us.
Supplementary question
Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- I thank the minister for his answer. He referred to the program being undertaken by the EPA and to the study of water quality. What about the foreshore and areas near the foreshore of the bay, not just the water itself?
Mr JENNINGS (Minister for Environment and Climate Change) -- In terms of the absolute technique and the method and whether it relates to foreshore sludge, as Mr Kavanagh has described it, that may be evident along the foreshore, I am happy to take advice on the technique and the method, and perhaps we can compare notes about the best way we can compile evidence to provide some degree of confidence into the future.

Children First Foundation: Conjoined twins

Victorian Parliament Hansard

Title: Children First Foundation: conjoined twins
Activity:Members Statements
Date: 25 November 2009

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- I pay tribute to members of the 16-member medical team at the Royal Children's Hospital who recently separated Bangladeshi conjoined twins, Trishna and Krishna, in a 32-hour operation.
I also congratulate my cousin Moira Kelly and my aunt, the senior Moira Kelly, who have been looking after Trishna and Krishna for two years, along with some helpers. For that entire period they have been giving them tender, loving care. I was in hospital in September and had the privilege of being visited by the junior Moira, together with Trishna and Krishna. On that occasion the twins were full of energy and love of life.
I express my thanks and admiration to the medical team, to both Moiras and to all those who helped the twins.
All Victorians have contributed, through their taxes at least, to the extraordinary medical skills that have added so much to the lives of these two little girls. All Victorians can therefore feel not only joyous but also proud of their contribution.

Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution

Victorian Parliament Hansard

Title Planning: growth areas infrastructure contribution
Activity: Questions without Notice
Date: 26 November 2009

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- My question is for the Minister for Planning and relates to the growth areas infrastructure contribution (GAIC). The minister has recently announced a change to the proposed GAIC so that this tax will be payable on the next sale of a piece of land by the land purchaser rather than by the present landowner. Will the GAIC tax still not effectively be paid by the landowner, if only in the form of receiving a lower price for the land that is sold, even in cases where, contrary to the minister's repeated assertions, there will not be a great uplift in price due to the fact that the land cannot be developed perhaps for decades?
Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) -- I welcome Mr Kavanagh's question and I welcome his interest in these matters, as I welcome the interest of members of all parties in this chamber in the impending introduction of the growth areas infrastructure contribution. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and a lot of it is based upon contradictory views about to what extent a value uplift will occur around the adjustment to the urban growth boundary. We still stand by our view that in adjusting the urban growth boundary you will get a significant uplift in the value of that land just by changing the vast majority of that land from land which is basically not currently developable to land that is developable, so there is a very significant uplift.
I have heard various contradictory remarks from a range of individuals, who on the one hand are saying, 'With this we will be rated off the land' and on the other are saying, 'With this, though, we will not be able to get any uplift'. There is a direct and stark contradiction there.
I heard it yelled from the opposition earlier in question time that they will be rated off the land. Why would they be rated off the land? They could not be rated off the land, because first of all for their rates to go up there has to be a very significant value uplift. That is of critical importance here. You cannot have the value uplift through coming into the urban growth boundary but then say, 'There is no uplift of value on my land'. That is a contradiction. What is very important here is that there is a very significant uplift in the value -- very significant.
I have no doubt that later on as the land moves through its development steps there will be additional uplift, but the most significant uplift occurs when land is brought into the urban growth boundary.
Honourable members interjecting.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- I take up Mr Guy's point that you have to have the cash to do it. The issue here is that there is very significant uplift in the adjustment to the urban growth boundary that is captured in the value of the land. When that land is next turned over, we will seek to capture some of that uplift through the growth areas infrastructure contribution.
I have gone through a lengthy dissertation. I expect we will hear even more about the merits of that, and I know we will hear from members of the opposition why they do not believe it is appropriate. At the end of the day the government has a commitment to building vibrant, strong communities with good infrastructure, particularly good transport infrastructure. We believe this is the most appropriate mechanism to see this through.
I have suggested, and I continue to suggest, to the opposition and other parties that if they have a different view, they should put it to this chamber in the form of an amendment and we will consider it on its merits. Labor is not the only party that will vote on these matters. Mr Kavanagh will vote on them, members of the Greens will vote on them, and from time to time the Liberal-Nationals coalition splits on things when it comes to matters of conscience. If there is a strong view from the parties on the other side of the chamber about these mechanisms, if they believe they are currently not right -- as we believe they are -- I would welcome them coming up with a solution or suggestion and letting this house of review debate it and try to work through the issue before they rule the legislation ineffective by voting against it outright.
Supplementary question
Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- The objections to the GAIC are largely based on the timing -- the imposition of the GAIC at the point of sale rather than development. In other states the tax is imposed at the point of development, unlike what the minister is proposing in Victoria. Is the real reason for imposing it at the point of sale not to get the money now rather than leaving it to future governments?
Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) -- I welcome that point. There are two issues here. As I have said before, one issue is getting the money sooner rather than later so that we can get the investment -- we do not steer away from that -- but the other issue is a technical one that the opposition seems oblivious to. I know Mr Kavanagh and members of the Greens would be interested in it because they seek to be interested in these matters rather than form a position that rules out alternatives outright.
What we do know is that sometimes when development occurs the developer never owns the land. He develops it all the way through the sequence and it is not until late in the development cycle -- with title exchange at a very late stage -- that there is a turnover of title. The misnomer -- --
Mr Guy -- But approval has nothing to do with the title.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- I take Mr Guy up on that. We are talking about the transaction and the title exchange; you are talking about approval.
Mr Guy -- That's right.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- Yes. Some developers take up the option and do not take up the land until it reaches that point anyway. It will most likely occur there anyway, because the vast majority of developers -- --
Honourable members interjecting.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- I know Mr Kavanagh is interested in my answer. The vast majority of developers come up with some option or arrangement anyway. What we are conscious of is that the later you push it into the cycle, the more we will have another argument. We will have another argument with developers.
They will say, 'I did not get the best deal on the land'.
Honourable members interjecting.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- I am trying to answer Mr Kavanagh's question, even though the opposition does not want me to give information to Mr Kavanagh. The issue here is that if you push it later into the development sequence or cycle, we will end up having another argument with the same industry representatives and the same developers.
Honourable members interjecting.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- I know Mr Barber and the Greens are interested in this.
We would have developers saying at the end of the precinct structure planning process, 'That developer got the retail area, which is great value; another got the residential area, which is not such bad value; and I got the industrial land, which does not hold the same value'. We know, and Mr Guy knows, we would end up with the same argument all over again with the same developers but around a different set of issues.
Mr Guy interjected.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- I know Mr Kavanagh is interested in my answer. At the end of the day the issue is, as Mr De Dominico of the Urban Development Institute of Australia said the other day -- and he expressed it quite holistically -- that taxes suck. I know that is the view of Mr Guy and Mr Finn. We end up in the same position time and again. No matter where we define it, no matter where we set it at, we will end up having the same argument.
Mr Guy does not have an argument about where it should occur; we know that. He is consistently shifting the argument in order to again have the same argument about no tax. He would prefer to side with the development community to stop it paying tax, to get significant uplift, to delay the infrastructure, to delay the transportation -- --
The PRESIDENT -- Order! I believe Mr Kavanagh asked both the question and the supplementary question. I suggest the minister might like to concentrate on his answer and not debate Mr Guy.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- Thank you for the guidance, President. To sum this up for Mr Kavanagh: we end up shifting the argument along the development sequence.
I know many people in this chamber are committed to seeing families -- the new home owners -- supplied with the right services, the right infrastructure and particularly the right transport infrastructure at this point in time, particularly if the most affordable housing option for them is a long way from the centre of the city. Our commitment is to try to do that in a way which we believe not only does justice to the infrastructure and to the new communities but also and in particular balances the needs of the building and construction industry in a measured and sensitive way that does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. No doubt Mr Kavanagh will see people who want to lobby him on their respective views, as we all will in this chamber. I look forward to the consideration of this bill being a measured consideration -- --
Mr Guy interjected.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN -- Not on ideological grounds, Mr Guy, but on views which are about what is best for these new houses, what is best for these new householders and what is best for these new families -- the people who are settling in these new growth areas -- in years to come; not in years a long way out but years just shortly down the road, when we will need to provide them with the right service.
I look forward to that support. I look forward to any suggestions as to how we can improve. I look forward to a sensible consideration of these matters when the bill comes to this chamber.


Protesting on Behalf of the Unborn

Thousands of pro-life Victorians attended a "March for the Babies" rally in Melbourne on Saturday, October 10, to protest against their state’s radical abortion laws passed a year ago. Eight political and religious leaders addressed the crowd from the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House.
One of the speakers was Peter Kavanagh MLC, the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) state upper house MP for Western Victoria. Here is an abridged version of his speech.

We are here today to commemorate the first anniversary of the most extremist pro-abortion legislation that has ever been passed in a Western democracy.

Under this Victorian legislation, not only was protection for the unborn eliminated, but doctors nurses and other medical professionals who know that the unborn victims of abortions are human beings, are forced to facilitate abortion and even, in some circumstances, to perform abortions. It is no surprise then that a leading academic has labelled this legislation "fascist".

But the debate over this legislation was even worse than that.

One year ago today I proposed several amendments to the Abortion Bill 2008. The first was to require, as in Arkansas for example, that the foetus about to be aborted be given pain relief. It has been shown beyond doubt that many unborn suffer excruciating pain during an abortion to an extent that is beyond our comprehension. A majority of members of Victoria’s Legislative Council voted against it.

Sometimes babies who are aborted survive the abortion and are born alive. The two formal investigations of such situations that have been done in Australia show that the abortionists do exactly what you would expect — they simply leave such babies to die. One of my proposed amendments would have required the abortionists to give medical assistance to such babies. A majority of members of the Legislative Council voted against abortionists being required to assist babies who are born alive after "failed" abortions.

I also proposed an amendment to prohibit partial-birth abortion in Victoria — the turning of a baby around within the womb and dragging her feet first almost to the point of birth with only her head still in the birth canal (this is done because if her head came first she might be born too quickly to kill her before she is fully born) and then gruesomely killing her while her head is still in the birth canal. A majority of members of the Legislative Council voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion.

Considering such irrational lengths to which many will go in their support of abortion, it is easy to become disheartened.

There are however, good reasons to be optimistic. For example, more Americans now say they are pro-life than at any time since surveys have been taken. We all know of course that as America goes, we in Australia usually follow.
But there is a more fundamental reason for being confident that we will eventually win, or, rather, that the unborn will win and that ultimately, one day be granted justice under law and treated with respect. The reason we can be sure of that is that our cause, which is also their cause, supports and is supported by the truth.

The truth is that the unborn baby is enveloped by and dependent on, but not a part of, another body. The unborn baby is just like all of us here. We got our DNA from our mothers and our fathers. But our DNA is different and separate from the DNA of both our mother and our father. The DNA that characterises and demonstrates the humanity of the unborn baby belongs to the baby and to nobody else.

The truth is that the destruction of another innocent, non-threatening human life is never a legitimate choice for any person.

The truth is that there is no inherent contradiction between the interests of a mother and her unborn child — it is in the interest of both of them that the woman is able to give birth to a healthy son or daughter.

The truth is that our decisions and our options properly stop and are properly stopped for us by the law, the government and our society at the point where harm to another person begins — and who could deny that taking the life of an unborn baby in an excruciatingly painful way before he or she can see the light of day is doing the most harm that we could do to anybody?

The truth that the primary object of any legal system is and should be the protection of all innocent people.
The truth is that although the unborn baby is immature, undeveloped and dependent, these are not reasons to take away his or her right to life. To the contrary — the truth is that his or her very vulnerability demands extra protection.
The truth is that effective protection for everybody requires attempting to protect everybody and that taking away protection for some, weakens protection for everybody.


Israel: Missile Attacks

Title:Israel: missile attacks
Activity: Members Statements
Date: 26 November 2009
Page: 5663

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- As Mrs Kronberg did yesterday, I would like to express my admiration for the people of Sderot, Israel, which is a town we visited last week. The people of Sderot have been victims of almost daily missile attacks from the Gaza Strip over several years. None of us would be surprised by deplorable acts committed in the course of the Middle East conflict, but, in the case of Sderot, some acts in civilian areas are targeting civilians. The people who are forced to allow their backyards and neighbourhoods to be used as missile launching places are secondary victims, but the primary victims are the people who are being fired at. We saw primary schools which have had huge concrete structures built over them in an attempt to protect children to some extent from missiles. Kindergartens are built from missile-resistant materials. Even playgrounds have bomb shelters in them that are virtually disguised as children's toys.
I express my admiration for the people of Sderot and their tenaciousness.
No doubt any appeal to the people firing the missiles would be futile. But I ask my fellow Australians to understand that Israel is likely to have to respond and in that circumstance to ask themselves what they would do if their neighbouring property was being used as a place from which to fire missiles at them and their families.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Hansard 2009-03-11 Barwon Heads Bridge Amendment

Preceding the following debate in Parliament, there had been community opposition to a Vic Roads proposal to build two bridges at Barwon Heads instead of replacing the existing bridge with a single bridge.
On 11th March 2009 Ms Colleen Hartland MLC for Western Metropolitan Region moved the following motion:
"That amendment C118 to the Greater Geelong planning scheme be revoked".
Mr Kavanagh's comments in Parliament on Hansard are below:

Date: 11 March 2009
Page: 1376

Page 1376

Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- The Barwon Heads bridge definitely needs to be replaced or radically rebuilt.

Two or three weeks ago I inspected the bridge quite carefully from underneath and found there were shards and lumps of rust that used to be big bolts. You only knew what they were because of the position they were in under the bridge. There were rough-hewn logs that looked more like they belonged to a 19th century bridge than even a 20th century one. Although there has been a lot of talk today about how beautiful the bridge is, a lot of the old wooden pylons have been replaced over decades in different styles. There is a hotchpotch of concrete blocks and concrete pipes as well as the wood that supports the bridge.

It seems quite clear to me from discussing the issue with locals, from looking at the petition of around 3500 people and from the very large number of people who attended a rally in January, and also from the decision last night by a large majority of the City of Greater Geelong, that the local community does not support the two-bridge option.

In terms of the merits of the case against the bridge, there is the possibility of damage to the spit through erosion caused by the construction of a second bridge. We do not know for sure because there has not been the environmental study on the area that we would expect, but we do know for certain that parts of the beach would in effect be lost. It would be small parts of the beach, but it is a very beautiful beach and something precious that we should be preserving if possible.

Considering the matter generally there seem to be contradictory principles involved. The first is that government should normally be left to decide issues such as this one. That principle, however, has been mitigated by the fact that the government has changed its mind. The option it is putting forward now was not the option that it put forward before the last election.

Furthermore the coalition has made it clear that the passage of this motion would be an exception rather than a general rule -- that this should be considered to be rare in the future.

More important than that principle, however, is the longstanding principle of my party, the Democratic Labor Party, that wherever possible local people should decide local issues. When you think about it, that is an important principle if we are going to have a genuine democracy, because it is only when local people decide things for themselves that a large number of people actually get what they want. The alternative is tyranny by the majority. Wherever practicable, a decision should be made at the lowest level, whether that is a state government, a local government or a local community, as in this case. As a representative of western Victoria, which includes Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove, I feel obliged to respect the wishes of the local population.

Ms Tierney said people tell her to get on with it. We all want to do that, but the question is: what is 'it'? Is 'it' an infrastructure proposal that is environmentally dubious and contrary to the wishes of the local people, or is it something that is likely to be sounder from an environmental point of view and something that complies with what local people want?

I hope the government does get on with it soon and provide the bridge the local people want -- one that will not damage the beaches or the spit at Barwon Heads.

Page 1379

House divided on motion:

Page 1380

Ayes, 21
Kavanagh, Mr
Noes, 19

Motion agreed to.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Hansard 2009-02-24 Bushfires: Victoria

Click here for the same article at

On 24 February 2009, the Treasurer Mr John Lenders MLC for Southern Metropolitan Region moved the following motion:
"That this house:
(1) extends its condolences and deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of those killed in the recent bushfires;
(2) grieves for those who suffered injury and who lost their homes, property and personal possessions;
(3) praises the work of firefighters and emergency services personnel from Victoria, other parts of Australia and overseas for their courage and sacrifice in fighting the fires and protecting our community;
(4) expresses its deep gratitude to the many volunteers and community members who have supported friends, neighbours and communities at this time of great need;
(5) sincerely thanks the people of Australia for their incredible generosity and support to the affected communities, particularly through the bushfire appeal fund; and
(6) pledges to work with communities and all levels of government to rebuild fire-affected communities at the earliest opportunity
Mr Kavanagh's comments in Parliament on Hansard are below:

Title: Bushfires: Victoria
Activity: Condolences
Date: 24 February 2009
Page: 897


Mr KAVANAGH (Western Victoria) -- On behalf of the Democratic Labor Party and the people of Western Victoria Region, I rise to support the sentiments expressed by other members on this condolence motion today.

Recently there have been quite significant fires in western Victoria, including those at Daylesford yesterday and today; however, our primary focus is naturally on the fires of Black Saturday, due to their sheer scale.

Victoria has suffered a terrible loss from this natural disaster, on a scale previously unknown in Australian history. We have lost vast tracts of forest and millions of animals. We have lost businesses, 2000 houses and entire towns. Most tragically, hundreds of our fellow Australians have died, many in horrific circumstances, and others have been seriously injured. Today we should particularly consider two categories of people: firstly, the victims of these tragedies, and secondly, the many people who have helped, particularly emergency service workers.

It is one of the great frustrations of life that we cannot help the dead, but we can all do things to honour those who perished and perhaps give meaning to their deaths. It is often said that we do not know what we have got until it is gone, and it is a true claim. My experience is that the death of another person brings with it a sudden realisation of the great value of that person. It is often only when we know that they are gone forever that we see the uniqueness of that person and how irreplaceable he or she was and how the world is poorer for his or her loss.

We have lost hundreds of our fellow countrymen and women. It seems to me that if we could take from their loss a profound understanding that each person is unique and irreplaceable and from that a determination to try, in spite of all our flaws, to be kinder, more generous and more patient with others, even strangers, that that would be doing genuine honour and paying appropriate tribute to the hundreds of Victorians who have lost their lives.

We have obligations not only to the dead but also to the living. This is a time of mourning, so blame and recrimination is inappropriate, but we must do all that we can to prevent such disasters happening again. We need to learn from this disaster, minimise the chance of fires happening again and mitigate the loss and impact if they do occur.

The loss of homes, personal property, cars and businesses is devastating, but at least those things are replaceable. A range of charities, organisations and agencies and the commonwealth and state governments have been active and generous in helping victims in this respect. I applaud the Treasurer's recent announcement of providing land tax and stamp duty relief to those who have lost property.

The Australian people have reacted generously in all kinds of ways to help their fellow Australians.

The amount of money that has been raised to help victims is unprecedented. From all parts of Australia around $150 million has already been raised and an ocean of household and personal goods has been given. Mr Lenders mentioned that donations of blood have surged as Australians have rushed to give this precious part of themselves to burns victims. These responses from millions of individuals around Australia warrant not only gratitude for but pride in our fellow Australians.

A vast range of individuals who are not members of agencies or organisations have made contributions -- often heroic contributions -- to fighting bushfires or providing relief to victims. They cannot all be mentioned here, but, like Mr Jennings, I would like to refer specifically to a couple of them.

Mr Peter Thorneycroft, who was still recovering from serious injury himself on Black Saturday, stood on the roof of Kinglake's National Park Hotel.

With the inferno raging around him, flames on all sides, houses in the immediate vicinity bursting into flames and almost engulfed in smoke, Mr Thorneycroft poured water from buckets onto spot fires as they broke out in the hotel beneath him. Mr Thornycroft's heroism probably saved the lives of 20 people sheltering in the hotel beneath his feet.

Mr Ranald Webster was badly hurt in the Ash Wednesday fires of a quarter of a century ago. Photographs show that after those fires he was very badly scarred. Now, thankfully, his face shows few

Page 898

signs of burns or scarring. He is 87 years old, but he has been visiting victims of this fire in hospital to show them that there is hope, by demonstrating that many injuries can heal and that their scars may not be terrible.

In the context of efforts made by individuals, like Ms Pennicuik I would like to recognise the Premier and to acknowledge how he has been supported and assisted by the Treasurer and other ministers. In my opinion the Premier has done as well as any leader could have done in giving comfort and support to the survivors of this tragedy.

Cynicism about politicians, as we all know, is rife throughout the community, but I am absolutely sure there is not one of us in this entire Parliament who would not be genuinely and profoundly moved by coming face to face with any of the victims of this tragedy, particularly those who are burns victims.

Doctors and nurses have gone beyond the terms of any contract of employment in treating the injured. It is apparent to any observer that medical staff are doing everything they possibly can for victims and that they are giving not only their professional expertise but loving care, compassion and dedication. This was epitomised for me by the photographs of a burns victim who was bandaged from head to toe, with only his eyes visible -- I say 'his', but it could have been a woman -- and he or she was being cared for with obvious tenderness, compassion and love by a nurse.

All the medical personnel, including ambulance drivers and other ambulance personnel, who were involved in the treatment of burns deserve thanks and admiration not only from the victims and their families but from every one of us.

Similarly many police officers went beyond the call of duty in rescuing people during the fires and protecting communities in their aftermath. Many police officers from New South Wales have volunteered and are volunteering to come to Victoria to assist recovery efforts and to relieve Victorian police officers; also, forensic experts have come voluntarily from the Northern Territory. I thank all police involved, and I thank the governments of New South Wales and the Northern Territory for facilitating this assistance.

Of course our firefighters, particularly the volunteers, are true heroes of this disaster. A recent letter to a Melbourne newspaper editor said it very well. It was written by an American immigrant. He wrote that the volunteers of the Country Fire Authority made him proud to be an Australian. Many of us, whether born locally or overseas, would wholeheartedly share his sentiments.

We often admire stars of the screen, sporting arena or stage for their great accomplishments, but the volunteer firefighters and State Emergency Service workers are our genuine heroes. Without financial reward, they train over extended periods to develop firefighting skills. In the most difficult and dangerous conditions, they give their all in their struggle to protect lives and property. Their sacrifice, dedication and courage are an inspiration to, and an icon of, our nation.

Two particular groups of firefighters warrant special mention. First are those who have volunteered from other states and territories to come to battle the fires in Victoria. They have come from Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, and Queensland. From every part of our island continent, people have volunteered to come to Victoria to give their skill, their strength, their courage, their expertise and their extraordinary effort.

Every single one of them knew that they were volunteering for dirty, dangerous, gruelling and exhausting work, battling infernos. Unfortunately, as recognised by Mr Jennings, one of these volunteers, Mr David Balfour of the Australian Capital Territory, has been killed helping us. We honour his memory and express our deepest sympathies to his wife and three children.

Even from beyond Australia volunteers have come to help fight Victoria's fires. From across the Tasman Sea and from across the Pacific Ocean -- from New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America -- heroes have come to Victoria to help us in our hour of need. We should never forget them and always be thankful for their heroic contributions.

I am sure that I represent the vast majority of people in this state when I offer condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in these fires.

May we find some solace and comfort in the generosity, the efforts and in many cases the heroism of those who have helped. To all those who fought the bushfires or helped its victims, I offer sincerest praise, deepest admiration and gratitude from the bottom of my heart.


Peter Kavanagh MLC
Member for Western Victoria
Parliament of Victoria

"La Cabine"
2nd Floor
1 Yarra Street
Geelong VIC 3220

Ph: 03 5222 1503
Fax: 03 5222 8677


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