Last night we tragically lost another volunteer firefighter, in terrible circumstances in Jingellic, New South Wales.
Sam McPaul was a brave firefighter and a member of the Morven Rural Fire Brigade.
In one of the cruellest developments, Sam and his wife Megan are due to have their first baby next year.
I cannot imagine the terrible sense of loss and grief that Sam’s family are now feeling.
I have spoken to Megan to extend my deepest sympathies and our love and support at this terrible time and express that same sentiment on behalf of the entire country. Sam McPaul was the best of us.
This is devastating news and I also extend my sincere condolences to his entire family, friends and fellow brigade members.
It is an unimaginable loss and one felt by the entire country.
A further three firefighters were injured in the same incident, one severely.
Our thoughts are with these brave firefighters and their families in this difficult time. We wish those in hospital a fast and full recovery.
The firefighters were working on the Green Valley, Talmalmo Fire, approximately 70km east of Albury when extreme winds flipped their truck and a second vehicle.
They were doing what thousands of other volunteer firefighters are doing around Australia, and have been doing for months – selflessly and bravely protecting their local communities. For that, the nation is incredibly grateful.
The devastating impact of these terrible bushfires is continuing. This week, fires in South Australia and Tasmania, brutal fires in Victoria and, of course, the fires rolling on in New South Wales, many at emergency levels.
As these fires continue to rage, the response continues to be run and well-led at a state level. We will continue to provide every support to those state firefighting agencies through the Commonwealth.
In particular, through the support of the Australian Defence Force. These are well-resourced, well-coordinated, well-responded to fires.
I thank all of those who are directly involved out there on the fire grounds and the teams supporting them behind the scenes.
This will continue to be a significant effort in the days and the weeks ahead and I fear, in the months to come.
We are expecting more difficult news out of New South Wales and Victoria today as the assessments are undertaken of the terrible fires from yesterday and last night.
I am closely monitoring the situation in all states and I am receiving regular daily briefing on all emerging issues. I am also in regular contact with the premiers and fire authorities.
I have seen the impact and devastation of these fires first hand, but I have also seen communities pulling together and caring for each other with a remarkable spirit. This is the Australian way.
We have stood up and responded to these terrible disasters before and we have come through the other side. We will rebuild and we will stay strong.
I urge all Australians to continue to listen to the warnings from the authorities and take care.
To those fighting these fires; please be safe, and continue to pull together in this difficult time. Your country is behind you every step of the way.