31 July 2023

New South Wales is better protected thanks to the arrival of the CH-47 Chinook at RAAF Base Richmond on the weekend. This is a permanent addition to the bush firefighting fleet that the New South Wales RFS has based in Richmond. It carries as much water or retardant as a large air tanker and has the capability to support firefighting operations at night. For this coming fire season, it will operate with a bucket of up to 10,000 litres before being fitted with an internal 11,000-litre tank. It has been purchased by the New South Wales government and transported to Australia by the Army and the RAAF. I was so pleased to join New South Wales Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib and RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers as we watched this machine be unloaded by RAAF members. I want to thank RAAF Flying Officers Toby and Alex, who got the helicopter here safely and also the ADF's 1st Joint Movement Unit, the members of which were on hand to come and see the results of their huge logistical preparation. It is extraordinary to see the collaboration at the Richmond RAAF base. I was there with Wing Commander Michael Stuart-Watt, and it's really a testament to the ability of agencies to work together. We know that we are at the start of what could be a really challenging fire season, and I'd urge everybody to get ready now.