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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

'Rising from the Ashes' football game; bushfire recovery; presentation of historical footage; Prime Minister

Doorstop interview with Victorian Premier John Brumby, Bill Shorten Parliamentary Secretary for Victoria Bushfire Reconstruction and Christine Nixon Head of the Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, Kinglake Footbal Club, Kinglake
4 April 2009

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BRUMBY: Alright, perhaps I could start. Great to be here today with Peter Garrett and Christine Nixon of course, the Head of the Reconstruction and Recovery Authority. This is a fantastic, fantastic day for Kinglake - we've got the Lakers versus Emerald. But it is a fantastic day for our State as well. And you have literally got millions of Victorians and Australians watching this game today, hopes and inspirations and dreams riding on the teams here. And it is really a symbol of regeneration and rebuilding and the extraordinary courage and strength and inspiration that we have seen from these communities.

And you know, over the last couple of months, we have seen an extraordinary outpouring of support and grief, donations of goods and money from right across Victoria and right across Australia and the eyes of the whole nation really have been glued on these communities that have been so devastated. And so for the football team to enter for this season- for the Lakers to come out to field a full team - it is not only such a huge step forward for them and the community, it is also a powerful message and image. It's captured the imagination I think, of our whole State. And it is a fantastic thing to support.

I was in Swan Hill earlier this morning at the CFA rural fire brigades championships and I thanked all of volunteers and the fire-fighters there on behalf of the State and I will do that again in my speech today. But this is such a big step forward and driving up today, I think everyone would have noticed the regeneration of the eucalypts and the ferns - Mother Nature is an amazing thing. But what we're seeing here today is the rebuilding and the regeneration and renewal of the human spirit and you can't beat the human spirit and you see it here today with these two teams taking the field.

As you know, we've been working very closely with the Federal Government on what we can do to help these areas and one of the early announcements we made was a $3 million fund for community sporting and recreation facilities, and one of the announcements I'll be making today is that we've approved the first major grant from that. It is $292,000 that'll put lights at this oval. There is also $80,000 for the tennis and netball club and about $20,000 for ground improvements. That is going to make a huge difference to this area. It is going to mean that right through winter they'll be able to play under lights; they'll be able to train in late into the afternoon and early in the evening. It is a very strong request that came through the Authority to us and it is one in partnership with the Federal Government today I am delighted to announce because again it is a big step forward and it shows how significant sport is for these communities.

And I might hand over to Peter and we're obviously looking forward to him doing the Anthem and he has been loosening up and practicing behind the barbie over there and we're all looking forward to his rendition of the Australian National Anthem.

GARRETT: Yeah, look thanks very much Premier and it is a real privilege for me to be coming to sing the National Anthem at this footy field this afternoon, in amongst a community that has experienced such extraordinary trauma and yet is showing such amazing resilience. And I think that what we are seeing here is the Aussie spirit in full force and I know, along with Minister Burke and myself, we have made an allocation from the Caring for our Country program for some $10 million to go towards bushfire recovery here. My expectation is that through the Goulburn-Broken CMA we'll start to see the delivery of projects which specifically go to helping landowners deal with some of the significant impacts that they found were a result of the terrible fires. And coming into the area for the first time you just can't help but be struck by the immensity of what has happened here and yet at the same time to see this community sprit, see that the rebuilding is underway and know that that sprit will continue as the weeks and the months unfold.

I was also very pleased that we were able to present, as we will today, to the community, a special DVD of material from the National Film and Sound Archive which contains fantastic old historical footage of this district showing what life was like for people in an earlier period and I think that this is going to be hopefully a great memento for the community here to treasure. And we're very keen to see a couple of things happen - one, is for any old photographs or bits of footage or image that people have, if they need a hand in getting it repaired and made fit for showing, the National Film and Sound Archive is there to provide that service for these communities. And additionally, we want to see the opportunity for artistic performances and cultural performances start to take place in these communities as well. What is happening here on the field is a great Victorian experience isn't it really, Premier?

BRUMBY: Yeah, it's our game.

GARRETT: It's your game. And look it is a great pleasure and a great privilege to be here. I know that I speak for many others who live outside Victoria when I say that we have had a very, very strong, heartfelt connection with the experiences that we don't fully comprehend or understand which people here have been through, which have been extraordinarily difficult, and we admire the resilience and the community spirit that is one show and we're here to support any way we can as the rebuilding continues.

JOURNALIST: How much of an honour is it for you to actually sing the National Anthem in front of a crowd like this?

GARRETT: Oh look, it is a real honour and when we were invited it didn't take me more than a microsecond to say of course I would love to have that opportunity and I think that as a nation we come together to share grief and to basically sing as one, with one voice, and on an occasion such as this as the communities gather, this will be an important and significant occasion and I am very, very proud be a part of it.

BRUMBY: I must say I think it was the first week after the fires when I was here with Christine, and of course the army was here. And this was just covered in tents and heavy vehicles and about 600 army reservists and you know, to see this today, the transformation, and it is…I think they're calling this game the ‘Rising from the Ashes' and it couldn't be a more fitting description and as I said before it is hope, inspiration and dreams and all of it reflected here on the oval and it is quite a transformation.

NIXON: [inaudible] a lot of people told me they couldn't do it either and they did it and the store that was there has been demolished and I think that it is a great achievement for this community - they fought hard. And with support to be able be here today and to play. It's just a great thing to be a part of [inaudible]

BRUMBY: Any other questions? We're all done?

JOURNALIST: Just can I ask on another issue Mr Garrett...

BRUMBY: Right, right, sorry about that.

JOURNALIST: Is the Prime Minister a bully? Have you been at the end of one of his sprays?

GARRETT: Look the purpose of being here today is to focus on what is going on both on the footy field and around us and I think that those matters have been very thoroughly canvassed already. I'm delighted that I have the opportunity to be here amongst this community. We stopped on the way out to have a look at the impacts of the fires and I was so struck by that. And I am so struck by what an important day this is as well and I think that any other commentary on other matters can remain for another day.

BRUMBY: If he wasn't singing we'd have him in the first ruck wouldn't we?

GARRETT: I wouldn't mind getting out there [inaudible] but that's in a by-gone age.


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