Two senior New South Wales government ministers defended voters from both not visiting the crossfire, with one suggesting ‘holding the hose’ would not help.
- Alpha Road Tanbaroola fire has been burning since Sunday, March 5th
- RFS says it’s the most devastating fire in the state since Black Summer.
- Dugald Sanders says government’s role is to help response agencies
During the Black Summer wildfires three years ago, then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison was vacationing in Hawaii. When defending his absence by saying, “I don’t have a hose, buddy,” he admitted it was “useless.”.
More than 18,000 hectares of bush and farmland have been destroyed in the Alpha Road Tambarulah fire near Hill End since it started 11 days ago.
It is raging among some of the voters in Dubbo and Bathurst, owned respectively by Agriculture Minister Dugald Sanders and Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole.
Neither MP had been to the fire scene since the fire started and both said it was inappropriate to do so today.
Both Toole and Sanders, who are seeking votes in next week’s state elections, were in Orange today announcing funding for the farmer’s business hub.
“Well what am I going to do, take the hose? Seriously?” Sanders said at a press conference.
“What do you think people would say about me if I showed up at the fire?”
“I’m there to get a camera. That’s what they say about me. Let’s be fair.”
Sanders said his government’s role is to support and facilitate the response of agencies such as the local fire department.
“The government has always been there and has experienced the worst drought in living memory, but that ended in 2020 after the rat plague. We had the worst floods of all,” he said. He said.
“We deploy billions of dollars in aid and will always be there to help primary producers and those who are losing their homes and property, so we will be there no matter what.”
At another media event in Orange, Toole said those in the impact zone are not forgotten.
“As a politician, I want to be careful not to get in the way,” Toole said.
He said there was a process for declaring natural disaster areas.
This includes damage assessments that must be completed by agencies such as the RFS, Recovery Authority, and Councils.
Reports are then submitted to state and federal governments to determine if support is required.
However, some of the fire zones said they were disappointed that MPs didn’t show up.
“just a cop”
Born and raised in Hillend, Nick Harvey spent the day at a friend’s farm that was nearly burned down.
Livestock injured by the flames were euthanized.
And given the scale of the fire, Mr. Harvey finds it hard to believe that no politician showed up to show solidarity.
“If you want re-election, get out in the bush and talk to people who want to vote for you,” Harvey said.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Labor or liberal. Especially when there’s a catastrophe, at least show up here.”
Robin Rayner’s husband and son spent days building containment lines to protect the Merino sheep ranch at Sally’s Flat.
Sometimes the fires reached within a few meters of their borders.
She said lawmakers have a duty to pay attention to voters and at least they should have been able to answer the phone.
“First of all, no one expects Dugald Sanders to come close to a fire. That’s not what people are asking,” Rayner said.
“And as long as Paul Toole hits the road, well, politicians hit the road all the time, but I’ve never stopped them.
“So, seriously?” I think it’s just a cop. ”
Farmers can contact Local Land Services for feed and hay.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-15/nsw-ministers-defend-not-visiting-tambaroora-fire-ground/102099284 New South Wales Ministers Dugald Sanders and Paul Toole defend against visiting Tumbaroola fire site