Mr CLARE (Blaxland) (13:51): A couple of weeks ago I told the story in here of Paul Parker, the firefighter from Nelligen who gave the Prime Minister a mouthful, and I mentioned that the pub he drinks at had received phone calls from people all across Australia wanting to put money on the bar for Paul. After I made that speech, I got a call from the bloke who runs the pub, the Steampacket Hotel. His name is Joel Alvey, and last week I went down to Nelligen to meet with him. He told me two things: first, in the past week a lot more money has been put on the bar for Paul Parker and, second, the pub’s in trouble and might have to close.
In summer, the pub is normally full—it’s full of people from the caravan park across the road; hundreds of people go to the pub for a feed and a beer—but this summer it has been empty, and it has been empty because of the bushfires. The caravan park was first evacuated three months ago, on 26 November, and it has been evacuated three times since. No customers means the pub’s in real trouble. They need help. They don’t want a loan; Joel tells me he already has enough debt. He needs a small grant, but he has been told he’s not eligible for it. If he doesn’t get it, he tells me the pub might have to close. This is a small family business run by Joel, his wife, his mum, his dad and a couple of staff. It’s the sort of business this government says it cares about, but this business feels like it has been abandoned. I ask the Prime Minister: please help this small business, and businesses like it, smashed by the fires.