August 17, 2019 by admin
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has urged NSW employers to be patient with workers who are volunteer fire fighters during the coming long, hot, dry summer.
“This is an important way in which the families and businesses can serve our community, by supporting those of their members who are out with the rural fire brigades,” he told reporters at Winmalee Fire Station in the Blue Mountains.
The most serious of the fires currently burning across NSW is in the region near Winmalee.
Mr Abbott, a Rural Fire Service volunteer, thanked those working on the NSW emergency.
“I just want to say how sorry we are on behalf of the people and the parliament of Australia for the heartache which so many hundreds of people in NSW are currently dealing with, but how proud we are of the thousands of volunteers and full-time professionals (fire fighters),” he said.
It was too early to tell how many properties had been destroyed or how much the recovery bill might be.
It’s believed hundreds of homes have been destroyed and one person has been confirmed dead.
People affected by the fires will be able to get disaster relief payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child.
The payments will be available in the severely affected areas of the Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Muswellbrook, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Port Stephens, Wyong and Wingecarribee.
“It’s quite a long time since we’ve had property losses in the order of hundreds here in NSW, so this was a very, very big fire,” Mr Abbott said.
The prime minister noted Australia had a long experience of managing bushfires and had the infrastructure and personnel in place to deal with such emergencies.
“It could be a long, hot, dry summer,” he said.
“We’re also lucky to have supportive employers, and supportive families who allow their loved ones to go out and do this kind of work when it’s needed.”
Mr Abbott is unlikely to join his Davidson brigade for fire fighting duties over the weekend, his office says.
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