Hunter Valley Bus Accident and First Responders
22nd June 2023
Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (18:57): Madam Temporary Speaker, I take this opportunity to ask you to pass on my congratulations to your fiancé, Andrew. I congratulate him on his wonderful choice. In the House this week we have heard heartfelt contributions to a condolence motion honouring the victims of the horrific tragedy that occurred in Greta in the Hunter Valley on Saturday 10 June 2023. That terrible event has affected so many in the Hunter area, and today I too recognise and pay my respects to the victims of this tragedy and offer my condolences to their families, friends, colleagues and communities.
I also wish to acknowledge and pass on my sincere gratitude to the first responders who attended this dreadful incident: paramedics, police officers, and Fire and Rescue NSW personnel who attended the scene of the accident and rendered assistance. I understand that some of them are residents of Lake Macquarie. I acknowledge the 000 call centre staff, who coordinated the incident response and, no doubt, were also terribly affected by this incident. The traumatic and confronting scenes of the Greta bus crash will be carried in the minds and hearts of all those involved for years to come. It is a timely reminder of not only the critical service our first responders provide to our community, but also the terrible burden our first responders carry as a result of their chosen vocation.
I acknowledge and thank the health professionals, doctors, nurses and hospital staff who subsequently provided treatment and support to the survivors of the crash and continue to do so. Thank a First Responders Day was held on 7 June 2023. Today I thank all first responders in Lake Macquarie and across New South Wales not only for their efforts and the heroic work undertaken during the Greta bus tragedy, but also for the work they do day in, day out for the Lake Macquarie and New South Wales communities. First responders are often confronted with traumatic and, at times, dangerous incidents. They attend to those incidents with professionalism and commitment. Yet the incidents no doubt take a personal toll.
In recent years Lake Macquarie residents have experienced many events when they have relied on the support and services of our emergency services personnel. Just over three weeks ago the Lake Macquarie area was battered by severe hail and thunderstorms. The Lake Macquarie and Cooranbong SES units were there to answer Lake Macquarie residents' calls for assistance. Only last week Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie crews joined the multi-agency search for a Lake Macquarie resident. I thank those individuals for their efforts during that incident and for the unique service they provide to the residents of Lake Macquarie.
The Lake Macquarie electorate is a naturally beautiful area, filled with national parks, conservation areas and an abundance of picturesque waterways. Residents of Lake Macquarie are fortunate to be able to enjoy those naturally beautiful areas each day. But in recent years our region has seen an increase in adverse weather events, including bushfires, floods and major storms. During these events we rely on the efforts and support of our rescue services, many of whom are volunteers. In the 2019-20 bushfires that affected many across New South Wales, the Rural Fire Service crews of Lake Macquarie protected the people and property of Lake Macquarie, the region and far beyond, as they do each and every year. I say thanks to the RFS crews of Awaba, Cooranbong, Dora Creek, Killingworth, Mandalong, Martinsville, Peninsula, Wakefield, Wyee and Wyee Point, along with every RFS volunteer across the State for their dedication and time.
The Lake Macquarie Fire and Rescue stations of Teralba, Toronto, Morisset and Wangi Wangi, like many across the State, are manned on a retained basis, which means the dedicated people who form those brigades are not, in the majority, employed permanently but work on an on-call basis. They are on call to protect the people and property of Lake Macquarie from emergency fires and other incidents, whilst holding down jobs and balancing family and other commitments. Without the support of those individuals' families, employers and the general Lake Macquarie community, the doors of our Fire and Rescue NSW stations in Lake Macquarie could not stay open. My heartfelt thanks go out today not only to the members of the Teralba, Toronto, Morisset and Wangi Wangi Fire and Rescue NSW brigades, but also to their families, employers and communities, who support them in the work they do.
Lake Macquarie, along with the entire State of New South Wales, is filled with heroes. They can be found in our NSW Police Force, Fire and Rescue, RFS, NSW Ambulance, SES, Marine Rescue NSW, emergency control centres and hospitals. They are there for our communities at our lowest moments. Our first responders carry a heavy burden and no doubt carry scars from the work they do and incidents they attend. Today I say thank you to the brave, professional and dedicated individuals who are our first responders.
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