Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (16:30): Every summer an Australian state or territory, or several at a time, face the ravages of bushfires. While my home state of New South Wales, fortunately, was able to avoid what looked like an early season threat, others were not able to escape the impact of fires. Both South Australia and Western Australia recently were heavily affected.
One of the great assets we have in Australia is the volunteer firefighter—a selfless, skilled and tireless individual who toils through the summer months and trains the rest of the year to protect their fellow Australians. I was very pleased to hear of the efforts just weeks ago of the Plumpton Rural Fire Service in my electorate of Chifley. We are proud to have three units: Plumpton, Shanes Park and Eastern Creek. Ten members in two crews from the Plumpton Rural Fire Service dropped everything on the home front and answered the call to battle fires in South Australia. Under the leadership of Senior Deputy Captain Trevor Haskins, the Plumpton crew carried out duties on the fire line between Brookside and Braecroft in the Adelaide Hills. It is heartening to know that in this country a volunteer firefighter knows no boundaries and our states and territories are only too grateful to see a red tanker from a long way away roll through their town to help for as long as they are needed.
The theme of selflessness leads me to pay tribute to another fine servant of my area, Sajana Nand, who was recently named Blacktown Citizen of the Year. A more fitting recipient of this prestigious honour I would be unable to find. The five minutes allotted to me in this space would not be enough to detail Sajana’s list of achievements for his local community and his workload for others. Sajana is the founder and President of the Australian Hindu Multicultural Association as well as a committee member of the Hindu Council of Australia. He is on the executive of the Blacktown City Libraries Multicultural Community and he is a volunteer with Sydwest Multicultural Services, which is also based in Blacktown.
The Australia Day Awards ceremony saw Sajana share the stage and the limelight with Amy McMillan, who was named Blacktown Young Citizen of the year. The year 12 student from my old high school, Mitchell High, was recognised for her tireless fundraising efforts. Notably, she has been working exceptionally hard to raise money for causes such as for causes such as cystic fibrosis and leukaemia awareness and treatment programmes.
I wanted to recognise the efforts of both Sajana and Amy on the floor of the House and also to applaud them on behalf of our community.
Finally, there has been some other great news in recent days in my electorate, in particular with the announcement that the Bidwill Shopping Plaza will re-open. Some may wonder why that opening would warrant such a mention on the floor of this chamber or why the re-opening of a group of shops would be celebrated in this way. In Bidwell, for many years, families have had to travel a considerable distance to buy necessities—in an area that sometimes does not have the best transport available to citizens. If they wanted to buy basics such as milk, bread or even nappies locally, they had to use a local drive-through liquor outlet in Bidwell. For a lot of families that is not acceptable. After many years and an estimated $3 million spent on renovations, the shopping centre is going to open next week.
I congratulate Foodworks, the supermarket chain that took the decision to invest in Bidwill by opening a supermarket inside the plaza. I am very pleased that the majority of the 25 staff who will work there will be locals. So there are not only more services available but also jobs for people in the area.
The decision by Foodworks to open in Bidwill has been the catalyst for at least five other small retailers deciding to establish businesses inside the plaza. There is a bakery, a hairdresser, a discount shop, a newsagent and a food outlet. The food outlet was the only operating business in the area before the centre closed its doors. There is a medical centre on the way as well, and that is fantastic news too.
We all know that businesses are not charities; they operate on the basis that they are made viable by patronage. That is why I urge the Bidwill community, which has been very vocal for the re-opening of the plaza, to now support their local businesses in that centre. I have been very encouraged by comments posted on my Facebook page by Bidwill residents who are promising to do their bit by shopping at the plaza. There have been comments like those from Trish, who said, ‘This is great news, bringing community together and offering services back to the people. It is big and positive.’
It is great to hear good news stories like that, especially when it means that families will have access to services and young people will be able to get jobs. To the new tenants of Bidwell Shopping Plaza and to the centre owner, Ralph Tomkins: we wish you every success and we will be there supporting you all the way