Australia — Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pledged to continue to stand by Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfire victims.
Ms Gillard made the promise during a visit on Sunday to one of the worst-hit towns, Marysville, with Victorian Premier John Brumby and Bill Shorten, the federal parliamentary secretary for bushfire reconstruction.
The trio opened a $428,000 State Emergency Services headquarters for Marysville – the old one was virtually destroyed in the fires.
They also handed over the keys to a $55,000 rescue vehicle, funded by community donations.
In a statement, Ms Gillard said her government would “continue to stand by those affected by the worst natural disaster in the nation’s history and support them as they rebuild their lives, homes and communities”.
The Marysville community and others devastated by the fires in February 2009 – 173 people died – had shown “remarkable fortitude”, said the statement, jointly issued with Mr Brumby and Mr Shorten.
Ms Gillard is a Victorian; she lives in Melbourne.