State emergency minister pays for a round at Rappville Pub
IT WAS the state minister for Emergency Services David Elliot's shout at the Rappville Pub on Wednesday, January 15.
Mr Elliot met with emergency personnel involved in the recent bushfires.
And he was paying for the drinks and serving them.
Unfortunately RFS members can't drink when in uniform so it was mainly ginger ales all round.
"My job is to make sure the responders are fed, watered and healthy and for them to know how grateful the state is," Mr Elliot said.
"I've visited many places but it's the first time I've shouted drinks."
Richmond Valley mayor Robert Mustow and general manager Vaughan Macdonald showed the minister the burnt houses contaminated with asbestos next to Rappville Public School.
It has been more than three months since fire tore through the village, with no warning and little time to escape, and still many contaminated sites remain as evidence of the savage fire.
Regional recovery commander for northern NSW Evan Ferguson said the recovery process was slow and complex and that asbestos sites would be cleared by the end of January.
"Public Works will deal with the two houses by the school," he said.
There has been discussion about using the Australian Defence Force as an alternative system and for government to take control of the whole clean-up, he said.
In response to the complexity surrounding government payments to RFS volunteers Mr Elliot said an announcement was pending.
"I'm confident that from tomorrow the maximum amount of money will be given to the maximum number of people in the minimum amount of time," he said.
RFS, SES, Casino Rescue Squad and other emergency services met the minister.
Some commented that they had expected him to make a speech.