IT WAS announced last week that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are planning a visit to Australia where they will tour bushfire-affected towns.
No dates or specific locations have been confirmed yet and it has been reported that Kensington Palace is still in discussions with the Federal Government about the tour, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison expected to send the formal invitation “soon”.
Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr has welcomed the tour, saying if the Royal couple were to visit the Snowy Valleys region it would not only boost morale for residents, but put fire-affected towns on the map at a time when they are at risk of disappearing.
“I have asked the Deputy Premier John Barilaro to consider bushfire affected townships across my electorate in the planning for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s visit to Australia, and I believe it has been added to a list of possible destinations being discussed with the palace,” he said.
“Snowy Valleys communities have been left devastated in the aftermath of the Dunns Road Fire, with significant losses in its softwoods and orchard plantations, agriculture, horticulture industries, leaving a big hole in these local economies.
“While I understand there may be a focus on coastal areas that have been impacted by bushfire during the royal visit, the Dunns Road Fire – later becoming a Mega Fire – burned close to half of the Snowy Valleys Council area.”
With 44.9 per cent of 895,744 hectares burned in the fire, that makes the Snowy Valleys Council area “one of the most bushfire affected Local Government Areas in the state.”
“While we have great, resilient communities working through the challenges of rebuilding, we know tourism will continue to play an important part in the overall recovery,” Dr McGirr said.
“Besides, how good would it be to have William and Kate at Batlow, promoting the CiderFest for example.”
Prince William and Kate issued a message of support for bushfire-affected communities in January, saying they were “shocked and saddened to hear about the fires that are destroying homes, livelihoods and wildlife across much of Australia.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the people and communities who are affected by this devastating event.
“We send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives, and the brave firefighters who continue to risk their own lives to save the lives of others.”
Prince William also recorded a video of support that was broadcast at the bushfire appeal concert Fire Fight Australia in Sydney on Sunday night.
This trip would be the second time the Royal couple has travelled to Australia since getting married. They previously visited in 2014 with Prince George and completed a 10-day tour, stopping at the Blue Mountains where residents had been devastated by bushfires six months earlier.
Prince William, who has visited Australia four times so far, also visited the country in 2011, touring flood-ravaged Queensland and offering support to those affected.