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Media releases from the Office of Susan Templeman MP.

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ABC NEWS RADIO INTERVIEW SATURDAY 4 JANUARY 2020

January 04, 2020

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
ABC NEWS RADIO INTERVIEW
SATURDAY, 4 JANUARY 2020
 
SUBJECT: Bushfire crisis across Australia.
 

SandY Aloisi, Presenter: Susan Templeman is the Federal Member for Macquarie and lives at Winmalee in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. Ms Templeman rebuilt her home after it was destroyed by fire in 2013 and is the afternoon monitoring conditions with temperatures forecast to reach 46 degrees. She says she’s angry that the Prime Minister has taken so long to realise that extra resources were needed.

 

Susan Templeman, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR MACQUARIE: Well it’s certainly about time that we had this sort of announcement and in fact I feel some anger this hasn’t come much  sooner. The Prime Minister was out in my electorate on the 9th of December and he heard how challenging it was for our fire fighters to really battle the conditions that they faced then. Now that’s more than a month ago that he was on the ground and should have heard the message from that meeting as I’ve been hearing for many, many, many weeks that our resources are stretched and that we needed additional support on the ground. So it’s about time but it should have been much, much sooner.

 

Aloisi: And I know that this afternoon you are looking after your own property and playing really, a waiting game. The temperature in the Blue Mountains is expected to reach 46 degrees. Do you have any notion as to what it is at the moment?

 

Templeman: We’re all here looking at our own recordings, it’s around about the 43 - 44 mark for a lot of parts of the Blue Mountains already and we know that temperature will increase as the afternoon goes on. And it is a waiting game. This is a large area. We can see the smoke from the fire to the south of us, really building up around that Warragamba fire. We’re looking to the north west and not seeing any new smoke. So we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that the incredible work that has been done to contain the fire holds the line. It means that it holds the lines. I was at the briefing this morning with the RFS and they were talking about really large quantities of remote area fire fighters something like 39 remote area fire fighters going into this very remote part of the Grose Valley over the last couple of days to try and contain it and we’ve had constant helicopters bombing it with water and fire retardant. So far the smoke is to the south, not to the north west.

Aloisi: And I know you yourself have experienced this type of bushfire before, perhaps not to the extent that we see the Grose Valley fire burning at this point. Your home was destroyed by fire in 2013 and how long have you been in your new one?

 

Templeman: We moved back in about 18 months ago having been one of 200 families who lost their home in 2013 and that fire was very different. It came through in a matter of hours and what has been so challenging about the conditions we’re facing is it’s been weeks and weeks. We lost houses in this region something like eight weeks ago so there’s been a very long tense wait. And you know we get the odd couple of days here and there where the wind drops and the temperatures drop and people breathe a short sigh of relief. But today people are certainly anxious because the winds have come up, the temperatures are high and we recognise that in these conditions a fire that breaks out or starts will very easily get away

 

Aloisi: And that’s the thing isn’t it. It’s not just trying to contain that massive fire that is on your doorstep, it’s the threat of new outbreaks in these conditions.

 

Templeman: Yeah, it’s so hot and so dry and we know that the ground is just ripe for ignition and so it only could takes an ember to fly forward. And you know there are fires burning all around us. The edge of the fire is moving closer and closer to properties. So when I was out this morning talking to people who were getting briefings from our local Winmalee brigade and Yarramundi brigade you see people’s anxiety asking very specific questions about wind directions, temperatures. We’ve all got a very heightened awareness. And many people have decided that they’d rather just not be around the mountains today and they’ve gone elsewhere, just in case the worst does happen.

 

Aloisi: And you? Are you prepared to go?

 

Templeman: We have the good fortune that when you lose your house, you rebuild to new bushfire standards, so we have a house that is built to withstand what’s called flame zone. That means we have shutters so we can lock it down and reduce the chance of embers getting into the house. So we are staying with a view to, potentially the first thing you get is an ember attack. So we’ve got hoses, water, a swimming pool as well as tanker water and firefighting hoses. And we’ll just keep an eye on things. You know the fires near me app has been incredible for people but you’ve still got to look outside, you’ve got to look out your window and go is that smoke, is that flame? Because it gets seen on the ground before it gets onto an app. So we’re keeping our eyes open.

 

Aloisi: And we began our conversation about the announcement of extra resources by the Prime Minister this afternoon. Did we need to have a bushfire emergency of this extent for the Federal Government to act then?

 

Templeman: Well we shouldn’t have needed this. This was known months and months ago that it was a very high risk bushfire season. It was very well reported and it would have made sense to bring in a lot of extra air support. You’d have to look at the Richmond RAAF base to see that it’s the perfect place on the eastern seaboard for a full time firefighting aerial force to be based. Because its right in the heart of one of the most fire prone places on the planet around the Blue Mountains. So we could have very easily had that waiting. These conversations about the role that the ADF could have taken in preparing for bushfires could have been had long ago. Older fire fighters

tell me that one of the really hard things is getting into rugged bush with hand tools, clearing fire trails.  Now think about the capacity that a young, fit defence force has compared to an older and volunteer rural fire service and the national parks people who get in and do that are also very stretched, resources wise. So there was a lot that could have been done in the lead up to this season and I think it will make people wonder how would the outcome have been different if these decisions had been made many months sooner.

 

Alosi: That’s Susan Templeman the Federal Member for Macquarie who lives at Winmalee in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

 

 
ENDS

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