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Source: Prime Minister of Australia

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much Gladys and thank you very much and to the Mayor and all of the other officials who are here with us, my colleagues who are here. Kevin Hogan the local member for Page, Michael McCormack the Deputy Prime Minister is here with me today, as is David Littleproud who is the Minister for responding to natural disasters at a Commonwealth level. But I think I want to just simply want to echo what Gladys has said in thanking this amazing community. The community that rallied together the other night so calmly and so effectively saved lives. There’s no doubt about that.

Much has been lost in this community and as I’ve spoken to some of you and I’ve looked at the wreckage a lot has been lost. And for that, there’s going to be real grief and profound sorrow. But when I see kids with their grandparents, when I see daughters with their fathers and the look between them and the look between the eyes of the community members here there is something that has not just survived this fire but has thrived through this fire. And that is the tremendous spirit of this community. And that is what is above and beyond everything else.

The support will come from the State and Commonwealth agencies, the payments particularly on disaster allowance, that starts on Monday. And I urge you to work with Kevin, the state members here to ensure that you’re getting access to all of those supports because they are all coming. I’ve stood in a lot of disaster areas – too many frankly – as a Prime Minister and have known how those payments have been come and followed. There have been issues with assessment time, there are issues on insurance – all of that is still to be worked through and that will be hard. But the thing that will sustain you is what I’ve seen amongst all of you here today and we should be very appreciative, I think, of each other and the care you have shown to each other.

So we’ll be here in the same way as the state government is. The services are being coordinated through the state government. I want to thank all the volunteers in particular. I want to thank particularly the cleaner of the school here that ensured it was kept unlocked on the night.

[Applause]

This will always be the centre of this community. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to come and spend some time with you. And we will be here again and we’ll see how the community stands up again. But just as I said, I’ve stood in the middle of disaster zones of places like this in the past. I’ve also been there and stood there on the other side. I had one happen in my own community, it was in Sydney. It was a tornado that went through Kurnell and I saw similarly homes which were completely destroyed and ones standing next to them were untouched. And that community is strong today. And this community will be strong again. Thank you.

[Applause]

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