Thursday, 9 February 2023
Harriet SHING (Eastern Victoria – Minister for Water, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Commonwealth Games Legacy, Minister for Equality) (09:40): I rise this week to pay tribute to and to recognise and to share our ongoing grief with the victims and survivors of the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. 173 lives were lost in the course of those catastrophic fires, and the impacts of those bushfires continue to be felt throughout the state, around Australia and indeed internationally, thanks to and as a consequence of the efforts of selfless volunteers and first responders who came to the aid of people in their hour of greatest need.
Bushfires are an increasingly significant risk to life and property across the state, and indeed this anniversary has reminded us of the ongoing risk and the need to assist communities in preparation for the inevitable increase in fires as a consequence of climate change and hotter and drier conditions. Next week indeed we see a further anniversary, the anniversary of Ash Wednesday. None of us who were in Victoria at that time, on Black Saturday or indeed during the Black Summer bushfires, will ever forget the smell of smoke, the flecks of ash on the wind and the fear that comes with them. To everyone who is grappling with the ongoing fear, anxiety, loss, grief and trauma of these bushfires: we see you, we acknowledge you and we continue our work to protect and recognise you.