Saturday 7 December 2019
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Australian PM - 22 days ago

Radio Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ray, how are you? RAY HADLEY: Good thanks. Where are you today? PRIME MINISTER: We re on the road. We re heading north today up to the Central Coast, and I’ll be back in Canberra this afternoon down at the emergency centre there. But it s going to, it s going to be a difficult day mate, as you know. And I want to thank your program and all the media outlets, mate, I think they ve been very good preparing people today, getting the messages out. The Premier has been very clear, as has the Fire Commissioner. And we re just asking people to heed those warnings and help where they can. Think of your own safety as well as those of others. And just the story you just told me, it s happening all over the place and it s great to see it happening, but it s no surprise. Australians are amazing in these circumstances. HADLEY: Well, Alan s been saying all morning, look, we might sound a bit hysterical, but we want the message to get out there and we want to get to tomorrow and say, look, it didn t happen, but it could have happened. And that s what we pray for and I know you are a man of prayer. That s what we re all hoping and praying for. PRIME MINISTER: Well, that s true. And there s been a lot of those going up, I suspect, overnight and today. And let s hope, as I think the Mayor of Blue Mountains said earlier today, let s hope today is a boring day. But what I can say is the preparations that I ve seen being put in place between states and territories here in New South Wales, international support as well. The lessons from those terrible Black Saturday fires a decade ago and more, they are all being put in place. And these preparations, you know, we ve reduced the risks, particularly with kids not being at school today and all of that. So, look, they re well prepared. They re on high alert. The Defence Force are equally there, they re embedded in all of the operation centres. They ve got their commands directly from the Chief of Defence Force as of yesterday that they need to be ready to go when called upon them. They can act locally as well. But obviously, any sort of broader deployment is at the invitation of the New South Wales Government. We ve talked about that again this morning. So we really just want to assure people, Ray, that everything that can be done is being done. And, you know, nature will throw some curveballs today, no doubt, and they will have to respond. But I think Commissioner Fitzsimmons, Gladys and the whole team in New South Wales are on this and we re just there to support them in every way we can. HADLEY: So does Premier Palaszczuk or Premier Berejiklian make the call if they need the army, if they need... I mean, transport facilities, I mean, we re not talking about them going to fight a fire, but supporting.  PRIME MINISTER: No, they re not trained for that.  HADLEY: No, but supporting the Rural Fire Service. PRIME MINISTER: That s how it does work and that s already been happening to date. I mean, we ve got staging and accommodation happening out of Singleton. People out at Williamtown are ready to go, as they are down on the south coast. And there are choppers that are ready to move, there is transports. There are all of these things. And we ve had our Defence Force planners in place in the emergencies... in the incident response management centre there in New South Wales for a little while now. So all of those things can be switched on. But at a local level, all the commanders have their orders to be able to go and do what they need to do at a moment s notice. So there won t be any delay there should they need to act. But, you know, you don t want people tripping over each other in these circumstances either.  HADLEY: No. PRIME MINISTER: It s got to be well-coordinated, well planned. And that s what they ve been working very hard to achieve. I mean, the one mercy in all of this is there s been a few days to prepare and for people to get ready. And I trust that people have been doing that with their own plans and making their own arrangements. HADLEY: Well, I mean, it s even people from your hometown in Sydney, on the north western outskirts where I reside and advice to go to the shopping centre, go to your local shopping centre, stay there, even if you re not within two ks of heavily forested areas because of, you know, the embers. Make yourself safe until, you know, the green light comes back on some time tonight or tomorrow to go back home. PRIME MINISTER: Well, that s right. And I think that s right. I saw that when I was up at Taree on Sunday and I met Owen up there - you probably saw the picture of me and Owen. HADLEY: Yeah. Lovely man. PRIME MINISTER: I was pleased to see that Own has gone home and his place is alright so I m thrilled for him. But there are a few other people there on that day who weren t going to go home to good news. But it s just following those instructions, I think just common sense has to prevail today. There ll be a lot of people who will want to go above and beyond, and that s totally understandable. Those stories of heroism in these incidences is always there. But also, you know, common sense. Think of your own safety as well and just follow the instructions and follow the warnings and we should get through this today. HADLEY: Ok. I know you re not going down the path of some of your colleagues having debates with the Greens about the whys and wherefores. But do you think - and I know it’s the domain of the state governments - can we have a discussion sometime later this year or early next year about hazard reduction burns in national parks? Because there s a lot of fuel. And it appears to me that we’ve fallen into the trap over the last decade, decade and a half, of just saying, oh, we can t go there, it is sacrosanct. We ve got to do something about it, Prime Minister. PRIME MINISTER: There s always going to be lessons after events like today and I think that s obviously one that has to be tested as well. I mean, I ve been hearing those same things as I was moving around on the weekend and it s been coming in to me. But you re absolutely right, Ray, the time to have those policy discussions are not in the middle of an operational response. Whether it s that or any other issue. It s not that people don t think those issues aren t important or need to be acknowledged, whatever issue we re talking about. It s just we’ve got to focus all our efforts on the operational response. That s what people in the crisis areas need and let s hope… I mean, in greater Sydney, in the Hunter and down in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven today as yet, we haven t seen any sort of major ignitions there. And that s thankful. But it s a bit of the calm before the storm at the moment. We re not expecting that front to come through til around about early afternoon, about two o clock or thereabouts, the Commissioner was saying today and it s not going to be accompanied by a lot of moist air behind it like you might often see with a southerly. So it will be a pretty strong wind and that s going to blow its way all the way up the coast, as it always does. And so it means it won t be hitting those areas up in Queensland until much later tonight. So we ll get through the daylight hours, but the risk will remain into the night and it will flow into tomorrow, because tomorrow is a pretty hot day, too. So, you know, it s just not today. HADLEY: Yeah, well, let s hope we get in the next 24 hours and say, well, we dodged a bullet collectively. I appreciate your time and we ll talk later. Thank you. PRIME MINISTER: Mate, all the best.  

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