MP excused from Parliament to visit fire-devastated towns
MEMBER for Flynn Ken O'Dowd has been excused from parliament to return to his electorate to deal with unfolding bushfire conditions.
In Mount Larcom this morning inspecting the damage caused by yesterday's blaze, Mr O'Dowd said he was pleased to be back in his electorate to speak to residents about their experiences.
He said it was difficult not being home earlier this week, while he was in Canberra for Parliamentary sittings.
"Most times I'd rather be here than down there, but this week particularly wasn't good," he said.
"But with the extent of the damage and the fires it had to be an issue had by the state government before it went federal.
"So we were just waiting and talking to (Gladstone Region Mayor) Matt Burnett on a regular basis.
"We were waiting for word that it was a federal issue, there was a disaster management plan in place and we could act then."
On Wednesday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Commonwealth Disaster Assistance Action Plan had been activated, as a result of the catastrophic fire conditions unfolding in Queensland.
The plan is the formal mechanism to allow the Federal Government to work with the Queensland Government to offer assistance, from financial to emergency services.
Rockhampton-based Senator Matthew Canavan and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry were also excused from Parliament.
Mr O'Dowd said it was important for residents to keep up-to-date with information from emergency services and to remain vigilant.
"We haven't seen fires like this in my lifetime, and I come from Mount Larcom originally," he said.
"The good thing is nobody got injured, burnt, hurt or killed," he said.
Mr O'Dowd also praised those who took immediate action to evacuate in a responsible way.
"When you see how close this fire came to the town the authorities were correct in getting people to move out of town," he said.
"While the fire was raging like it would have been out here it was a good call and a good thing people adhered to the warnings and got out.
"You can replace a house or a building or a shed, but you can't replace a life."
Mr Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said they had no immediate plans to visit the fire-devastated regions in Queensland.
"The advice for us is people need to focus on the firefighting effort and firefighting response," Mr Morrison said.
"We will monitor and manage the Commonwealth's response from Canberra and work closely with Emergency Management Australia."