Trish Hellier - 4 February 2020

Trish Hellier addressed the Council regarding the Eurobodalla bushfires at the Public Access Session on 4 February 2020.

Good morning all,

I cannot believe it has only been 9 weeks since the last Council meeting. Christmas, NYE and Australia day have come and gone and I doubt there will be anyone, be it a young child to the older population and all of those ages in between will ever forget what has occurred during the last 9 weeks and unfortunately it appears this disastrous situation may not be over.

Everyone has been impacted from those that have lost love ones, to those that have lost homes to those who fought to save their homes and properties, there has been many who had to evacuate a number of times and then there are those who have been living in the relentless smoke.  Many in this shire have been left traumatised and I am finding it hard to find the words to those who have been severely impacted except to say I am so very very sorry.

To our local Member Andrew Constance, to the Mayor, Councillors and Staff you have excelled under extremely difficult circumstances.  Whilst I am hesitant to single out anyone person I have to salute Warren Sharpe who stepped up for this shire.

Thanks must be given to all those who volunteered at the Evac Centers by providing services or those who donated food and to those who cooked the meals for the multitude.

I have 5 requests that I would like to touch on today and I hope that all Councillors will consider my suggestions.

Firstly – I would ask ALL Councillors to support our local Member Andrew Constance in his plight to have the monies that have donated by many to be released to those that have been affected.

Secondly – Councils in Sydney have offered the Councils whose residents have lost homes their services to process ALL DA’s free of charge to these affected resident.  I therefore ask, will the ESC take up this offer? Or are they prepared to waiver these fees as I firmly believe we need to make the process as easy and as uncomplicated as possible for those who have lost their homes and wish to rebuild.

Thirdly – I firmly believe this Council needs to look at making it a far easier process for those who wish to remove trees that are close to homes.  There also needs to be an increase in area of land that is allowed to be cleared around properties.

The facts are we know there are many thousands of acres of State Forrest and National Parks have now been decimated along with many native animals.  I firmly believe that ALL Councils need to demand the appropriate changes to legislation by the NSW State Government. There has been Environmental Mismanagement by many for years that has created a situation that has allowed fuel loads to build up in these areas which has contributed to these catastrophe fires and there is no one that can deny fire needs fuel.  Unlock the chains and remove the logs and large rock that block the fire trails in these areas. In the late ‘90’s Bob Carr approved the “lock up of these areas” – and it has been alleged that he stated at the time “let future government deal with it “– WELL time has come for it to be dealt with.

I will add to those who may heckle my statement from the back stalls of this Gallery like I experienced in December 2019 -I state I do not support the title of “Climate Change”  my view is “Weather comes in cycles” from the fires will follow floods that will need to be prepared for.

My Fourth points is in relation to the 1million dollars that the Federal Government is giving to all affected Councils I ask who will decide where this money will be spent? I ask that the Council release the details of where this money will be spent as soon as possible.

My Fifth and last request today I believe that this group of Councillors need to address to both the NSW and Federal Government a review of communications – I understand that Council do not have control of these issues and they do not control the infra structure as such but given the recent situation where power went out, home phones out, many mobile phone towers burnt and computer internet was lost which meant many lost total communication. We were fortunate that my hubby had an old transistor radio tucked away in his shed and we were lucky enough to have batteries and found that that the trani did work, the local ABC radio station was great until it also went down and like many we did not have communication or power for sometime. The lack of communication meant undue stress to many family members living out of this area and the technique of smoke signals has been gone.

I will finish by saying I believe there are some who have tried prematurely to use this current situation for their own political purposes.  Common sense seemed to have been lost to some with many not focusing on the bigger picture of the affect of these fire, but were more fixated on things like “tip fees” even though one tip was impacted by fire and burnt building item should not be removed due to an asbestos concern.   Common sense should prevail and the loss of food from the refrigerator should be placed in bags in a bin or just dig a hole in the backyard and bury the items and for those who don’t have back yards surely they know someone who does. I raise these point as I believe that there are some in the community that will continue to raise insignificant issues just to criticise anything by any means even though this disastrous situation may not be over.

Trish Hellier
For and behalf of
Eurobodalla Concerned Citizens.