By Mitchell Clarke
As Governor General David Hurley toured a house destroyed by fire near Noosa last week, victims of the Bunyip bushfires were left asking when they’ll be visited by a dignitary.
Over seven months after fires tore through the township of Tonimbuk and surrounding areas, residents rebuilding their lives are yet to feel the support of those in power.
It was a different story up north, however, when Mr Hurley was “touched” by the story of 89-year-old Pam Murphy, who was the only person to lose her house in a fire near Peregian Beach.
“One of the most important parts of my job is to thank people for what they do for their community,” the Governor General said. “When disaster strikes, you continually see a heartfelt response from people, who go the extra mile to help out. We’ve got a good case study here of response.”
But the response efforts to the Bunyip bushfires are being questioned, with victims feeling they’ve been “left out” of the government’s consideration.
Community Recovery Committee for the Bunyip Fire Complex chair Tony Fitzgerald said many of the residents who lost houses and property in the fires feel as if they aren’t considered as having suffered a devastating fire.
The committee have extended invitations to Premier Daniel Andrews, stating he’s “most welcome” to visit the struggling township.
“People in power have the capacity to help,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“It’s extremely disappointing that the Premier hasn’t been out to visit these communities yet, it shows a lack of concern for the residents.
“The residents are feeling that they’re being left out of the government’s consideration. We’re not considered as having suffered a devastating fire.”
Mr Fitzgerald said there are so many people hurting in the aftermath of the tragedy, stating six months after a fire is often the worst time for people who have lost their homes and property.
Acknowledging that residents have received some help, fellow committee member Lindsay McNaught believes a visit would instil some hope in victims.
“I guess it would make people feel relevant, that their plight was being recognised,” he said.
The Gazette contacted Daniel Andrews for comment but his team were unable to provide a response before deadline.