Mr D O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (12:49): As Gippsland recovers from yet another ordeal I am reminded of how privileged I am to be the local MP for such an amazing community. I have been overwhelmed by the passion and generosity of the people of Gippsland, who continue to support one another as we face storm damage, floods and ongoing power outages, all while negotiating COVID restrictions. I travelled the electorate after the storm and have seen the devastation firsthand. But Gippslanders have put their shoulder to the wheel and supported one another. Whether it has been farmers clearing roads, community organisations coordinating accommodation or showers, local businesspeople offering hot meals or other services or just everyday citizens spontaneously offering help where they see a need, Gippslanders have responded incredibly. While this does not surprise me, because I know the people of Gippsland South have generous hearts, it is important that everyone’s contribution is recognised.
Of course at the peak of those doing the heavy lifting are our wonderful Victoria State Emergency Service volunteers alongside our professional emergency services staff and many hardworking council staff and public servants who are helping to coordinate the response. A special shout-out to AusNet staff, who have been under enormous strain but have been getting the job done in difficult circumstances. We have probably just about had enough of crises for now: severe drought in 2018–19; bushfires in East Gippsland in 2019–20, which had a massive impact on Gippsland tourism; the COVID lockdowns with few cases in Gippsland; and now this storm and the floods, which tragically cost one life in Gippsland. On behalf of all those affected and to everyone who has played their part, I say thank you.