Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (10:10): Natural disaster declarations have been made in some 63 local government areas in New South Wales and Victoria, which gives an idea of the scale of these floods. I acknowledge the work that has taken place from the federal government, state governments, local governments and, most importantly, from volunteer organisations, particularly in areas such as the Riverina.
Today, though, I take the opportunity to recognise the work that takes place in urban communities. I would like to recognise the contribution of the Marrickville SES in the recent rain and flooding in the inner west of Sydney. In my electorate the Cooks River flooded; houses were affected and cars floated away. There was a devastating impact in a way in which I, who have lived in the area my whole life, have never seen. It was the worst I have seen occur.
During the storms last week and the flooding that occurred in the inner west of Sydney, the Marrickville SES unit was involved in 47 flood and storm operations which included flood response, tree and debris removal, local road closures and traffic response. The Marrickville SES unit services the entire Marrickville local government area and is led by local controller Michael Carney, who has served our local community for 22 years now. It is important to recognise that these people are all volunteers. They give up their own time to go out whenever there is an incident. In the past, it has been more storm damage that they have had to deal with, including major storm damage some years ago.
The unit is involved in many local community events and provides a wide range of local education programs—there are committed volunteers at every single local community festival and event. On Sunday I attended Bairro Portugues, the Portuguese festival in Petersham hosted by Marrickville Council. There it was quite evident that the local community were going up to the SES, who were wearing their traditional orange uniforms, and thanking them for the contribution that they make. The NSW State Emergency Service is dedicated to helping people when they are in most need. In NSW, the service consists of 231 units and over 10,000 volunteers. I take this opportunity to thank those people, whether they be in rural communities or in urban communities such as mine, who make such a great contribution to civil society.