There was barely time to take breath from fires when our emergency services people were flung full-on into rain, floods, landslides and trees down, right across the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury. As the Hawkesbury saw its bridges shut, with the biggest flood of 28 years, many people were caught on the wrong side of the river. It's certainly a good time to discover what role a new Richmond bridge has in our emergency arrangements.
Evacuation centres opened promptly. I want to thank Windsor RSL and North Richmond Community Centre for making those spaces available and the Red Cross and other volunteers for being there.
Hawkesbury's Helping Hands, as always, has assisted many people. In the Blue Mountains the landslip exposed the railway line between Leura and Katoomba. While there are frustrations for many people—those unable to get to work or school and those unable to get on with daily tasks—I know everyone wants to say the biggest thanks to the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains SES, RFS and other emergency services for their hard work.
The New South Wales government needs to declare this a natural disaster so that Commonwealth assistance can flow. Upper Colo and the MacDonald Valley look particularly badly hit. They need help now. Many areas are still without power and phones. The local economy is also really suffering. First there were fires and now there are floods. Every government needs to realise that urgent assistance for our local small businesses is needed so that they can stay afloat while things return to normal and the tourists come back. The imminent economic disaster is one we can avoid.