Kealy ups ante on fire air­base

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Australia Day 2019 -

Mem­ber for Lowan Emma Kealy has again called on the State Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide money to com­plete the se­cond stage of an emer­gency air­base in Hamil­ton.

Ms Kealy said the Coun­try Fire Author­i­tye­mer­gency Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria Air­base played a crit­i­cal role in re­spond­ing to fires across south-west Vic­to­ria.

Ms Kealy has been lob­by­ing the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide fund­ing to com­plete the project for four years.

“Air sup­port has be­come an in­dis­pens­able re­source for fire­fight­ers, in­clud­ing play­ing a key role in re­spond­ing quickly to small fires to stop them from grow­ing,” she said.

“The crit­i­cal role the Hamil­ton air­base plays in south-west Vic­to­ria was never more ev­i­dent than dur­ing the 2018 St Pa­trick’s Day fires, when more than 50 fire-bomb­ing flights were de­ployed from the base in one day.

“While this was a fan­tas­tic ef­fort, many more could have been de­ployed if stage two of the project was com­plete, al­low­ing im­proved re­fill and re­fuel times.

“Wa­ter-bomb­ing air­craft were also grounded for over an hour dur­ing the fires due to power out­ages and the lack of a backup gen­er­a­tor.”

Ms Kealy ac­cused La­bor of fail­ing to see the value in pro­vid­ing money ne­c­es­sary to al­low the base to be­come ‘an ef­fi­cient, modern and strate­gi­cally lo­cated fire-fight­ing as­set for south-west Vic­to­ria’.

It’s ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing,” she said. “The Lib­eral-na­tion­als made a pre-elec­tion com­mit­ment to pro­vide the $483,000 re­quired to com­plete stage two.

“I am call­ing on La­bor to match this com­mit­ment, giv­ing our emer­gency ser­vices the in­fra­struc­ture and equip­ment they need and our com­mu­ni­ties the peace of mind they are en­ti­tled to and de­serve.”

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