Central West Flooding
The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO: My question is addressed to the Minister for Emergency Services. What is the latest information on the flooding in the State's Central West?
The Hon. TONY KELLY: Earlier today I flew over floods in Wellington and on to Parkes and then I visited Eugowra. I thanked volunteers and met some people whose homes and businesses were affected by floodwaters last night. Thankfully the Mendagery Creek peaked at approximately 9.5 metres, not the predicted 10.5 metres that would have devastated the township. I know some criticism has been made of the decision of the local police and the State Emergency Services to prepare to evacuate the 730 residents yesterday. In my view, it is better to evacuate than to have a catastrophe reminiscent of New Orleans by leaving residents to fend for themselves. It is hard to predict the exact—
Are you laughing at what I just said?
The Hon. John Ryan: I was laughing at something my colleague said.
The Hon. TONY KELLY: That is disgusting.
The Hon. John Ryan: Point of order: The Minister appears to be interjecting to interfere with a private conversation I was having with my colleague. Is that what he was doing? Whatever the Minister was imputing is unfair and untrue and it is against standing orders to make such imputations.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind members that interjections are disorderly at all times. Members wishing to engage in private conversations must leave the Chamber.
The Hon. John Ryan: There was no interjection.
The Hon. TONY KELLY: I distinctly heard him mention New Orleans.
The Hon. John Ryan: Apparently you mentioned New Orleans.
The Hon. TONY KELLY: I didn't mention New Orleans, and it is much better to have—.
The Hon. John Ryan: I was talking about you, not to you.
The Hon. TONY KELLY: Will you be quiet?
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. TONY KELLY: It is much better to have an actual figure that is lower than the predicted figure than the other way around. Last night a number of people in Eugowra were affected by flooding. A number of houses were flooded, some of which had floodwaters 1.5 metres high passing through them. Fortunately, the flood was not as severe as they had expected. Evacuation was totally in order and the wise thing to do. I place on record my appreciation particularly of the fine work of the SES not just at Eugowra but also at Molong, Broken Hill, Wellington, Trundle, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Temora and all the other centres that have suffered the force of Mother Nature during the past few days. The SES will be at work in Dubbo later today, when minor flooding is expected. Often these types of disasters bring out the best in the Aussie spirit, and in the last few days I have seen countless examples. Yesterday 90 per cent of the shopping centre in the main street of Molong was inundated with floodwater. The supermarket was completely flooded and lost all its stock, the pharmacy lost all its stock, and the newsagency lost all its stock and one entire wall of the building. But this morning, with true Aussie spirit, the newsagent was selling newspapers on the footpath.
The Hon. Melinda Pavey: He's a trooper.
The Hon. TONY KELLY: He is a trooper. Last night Eugowra was cut in half by floodwaters. The bitumen on the main road was broken up, and this morning locals were making emergency repairs to the bridge, which connects the two parts of the town. This week the SES, which was formed in the wake of the catastrophic floods that swept through the Hunter Valley and the Central West in February 1955, is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. This Saturday the community will have the chance to thank the volunteers and the SES when it stages a grand anniversary street parade through the centre of Sydney. I am sure that they will receive a warm welcome as they parade up George Street, Sydney.