North West Sydney floods

Friday, 26 March 2021

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs) (10:03): I rise today to talk about the impact of the recent heavy rain and flooding that has occurred in parts of north-west Sydney, affecting my electorate of Mitchell and adjoining communities—and I acknowledge the member for Berowra and his community here as well. I want to acknowledge the incredible work of people who have worked within our system, our community, who have come together to help out during this severe weather system and ongoing tragedy. Tragically, yesterday a young man lost his life due to the rising and fast-flowing floodwaters in north-west Sydney. This young man was part of Australia's 64,000-strong Pakistani community, a guest in our country. I want to pass on our sincere condolences from Australia, from our government, from our Prime Minister, from our parliament, to his family, his friends and his entire community. I want to thank the Pakistani community for reaching out to me in north-west Sydney so I can help the family at this time. It was his first day on a job. It's a disaster for the family of this young man, so we pass on our thoughts and condolences to them.

Our thoughts are also with the neighbouring communities who have been badly affected and are suffering, impacted by the record rainfall, the one-in-50-year flooding and the Hawkesbury River overflowing. I want to thank Daniel McGovern, the Hills SES commander, and every single one of the Hills SES volunteers who are out on the ground and have been for a number of days now, fighting to stem a very difficult emergency and doing their absolute best against a very difficult emergency situation. We've seen the pictures on TV of emergency personnel upturned in boats, putting their lives on the line—they're doing it all the time to protect life and property—and selflessly working to make sure people are safe and fed.

I want to thank the Castle Hill RSL for opening its doors as an evacuation centre. I know some people have come. Some people thought it was a bit far, but, actually, the Castle Hill RSL is well appointed to take people from everywhere. They're very generous. They do it all the time. If it's fires or floods, they just open up their club, and they do a great job of looking after people. I know that the people there have been well looked after.

I want to thank The Hills Shire Council, St John Ambulance, the Red Cross, Anglicare, NSW Health, the police force, everyone who's on the ground—doing everything they can at the moment, working alongside our emergency services workers—the state and federal governments working together, and, of course, the community, who are doing everything in between, in situations where the emergency services can't be there. Sometimes creeks flood and they don't even show up on government maps, and communities rally together to sandbag houses to protect property. They come together as a community, protect themselves and do a great job of doing that.

We're very fortunate to have these amazing people across our community. We're fortunate to have the ADF now on the ground—boots on the ground; choppers in the air. The federal government will be supporting the state government effort. For this one-in-50-year flood, the cost is not known, the difficulties are not over and the challenges are going to continue. We're going to be right there to make sure, as a community, that we get through this together. We say to everyone: 'Please be safe. Please look after each other. Don't take risks. This danger is not over.'