Prime Minister, NSW Premier visit fire ravaged village
HUNDREDS of residents gathered to get a word and a hug in as Prime Minster Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian visited the fire ravaged town of Rappville yesterday afternoon.
Mr Morrison arrived wound his way though the crowd of more than 200 at Rappville Public School accompanied by MP Kevin Hogan and Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow.
Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack also joined them, along with NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, deputy premier John Barilaro, Minster for Water resources David Littleproud, MP Chris Gulaptis and Richmond Valley Council's general manager Vaughan Macdonald.
Mr Morrison stopped to talk to John Duncan who earned notoriety when he hid in his shed as the fire approached on Tuesday, October 8 and his daughter, Carol Duncan tweeted the RFS to help him.
Mr Duncan lost everything, including his walking stick. He has since been given 13 new walking sticks.
"Hello sweetie,” Mr Morrison said to a girl sitting with her father as he listened to their story about losing their home.
Mr Morrison didn't rush as he talked, shook hands, and hugged people.
There were smiles, tears, clapping and even some good old Rappville heckling during the speeches.
Mr Morrison said after he has seen the state of Rappville he believed the community would "thrive” after the tragedy.
"There will be real grief and profound sorrow,” he said.
"But when I see grandparents with their grandchildren, daughters with their fathers and the look between them, and look between the eyes of the community members here, there is something that has not just survived this fire, it has thrived in this fire and that is the tremendous spirit.”
When a woman in the crowd yelled out to Ms Berejiklian about reducing RFS services, the premier said she liked how up front Rappville residents were.
She scotched the rumours and said while she was boss of the state, the RFS would be supported.
Cr Mustow gave out council caps to the prime minister and politicians.
"Richmond Valley Council will be showing you some love over the next 12 months,” Cr Mustow said to the crowd.
"We will rebuild your hall and we'll want your feedback.”
The crowed clapped and yelled out shouts of thanks to the mayor.