Members statements: Bushfires

MINISTER HUTCHINS (Minister for Local Government) — Every year the community prepares for the harsh realities of fire season. Unfortunately this year it was a situation faced by those in the Otway Ranges. As we are all aware, bushfires on Christmas Day and beyond had a tremendous impact on the community and across the region, particularly those in Wye River and Separation Creek. Last month I met with the Colac Otway Shire Council and Surf Coast Shire Council and was briefed on the challenges facing those stricken areas.

At the same time, I was also briefed on the strength and resilience displayed by these communities. I was moved to hear about the support shown to these councils by other councils. Without hesitation, surrounding councils such as Surf Coast offered support to the Colac Otway shire, its people and councillors. Also Corangamite Shire Council, Golden Plains Shire Council and Greater Geelong City Council, along with a number of other councils from further afield, such as Yarra Ranges Shire Council, Monash City Council, Nillumbik Shire Council and Wyndham City Council, freely offered their time, services and support. These councils need to be commended for their outstanding assistance, not only in assisting Colac Otway so willingly, but also in dispensing much-needed support to the individuals affected by these events. Local government was working at its best over January. I thank all the individuals working at Colac Otway Shire Council, who came back from leave to support the community. I know that the months ahead will continue to be difficult as the community rebuilds, but I congratulate them on their fantastic work and effort.