[Download PDF] I commend the member for Coogee and other members in this place for this motion. I take the opportunity to pay tribute not only to State Emergency Service [SES] volunteers for their efforts in the past 24 hours in responding to a huge amount of callouts and peoples' worry and despair but to the volunteers who contribute to efforts across the State during any emergency.
I acknowledge the member for Kiama, who is present in the Chamber, and the difficult conditions his community is dealing with at present. Obviously, being from the Blue Mountains, I mention my SES unit, which covers one of the largest municipal areas in the world.
The Blue Mountains local government area covers 1,433 square kilometres along the Great Dividing Range, in the west of the greater Sydney area, and about 70 per cent of that area sits in the Blue Mountains National Park. Some of the particular difficulties that are faced by our SES include terrain and climate—the very attributes that make our area an attractive place to visit.
I acknowledge that at the beginning of May this year the NSW State Emergency Service celebrated its sixtieth birthday. The State Emergency Service was formed after deadly floods affected the Hunter back in 1955. To this day, it is important for us to acknowledge our SES volunteers.
For an operational period of 14 days in April-May of this year, more than half of the Blue Mountains SES fleet was deployed to the Gosford, Wyong, Taree, Grafton and Port Stephens areas after more than 21,000 calls for assistance were made. Today I pay tribute to John Hughes, the local controller of the Blue Mountains SES, his operations team and countless volunteers.
Since the inception of the Blue Mountains SES unit in 1957, the unit has been involved in a large number of emergencies throughout the Blue Mountains and New South Wales. Today in the New South Wales Parliament I take my hat off to them and to all the SES volunteers across New South Wales.