Former NSW Secretary of State Andrew Constance has come forward in defense of Shane Fitzsimmons after an inquiry into the state’s response to flooding recommended removing the position of the NSW Resilience boss.
Constance, a former Bega MP and Transport Minister, formed a bond with Mr Fitzsimmons when he was Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service during the Black Summer bushfires.
“For God’s sake, this is a guy who saved lives, who was there for my community and our state during Black Summer,” Constance said in a video posted to social media Thursday night.
“I think he deserves a little better than this.”
Constance also made a run for his former colleague and former emergency services minister, David Elliott, who was on holiday in France during the devastating bushfires.
“I know where the minister was at that time. He was not in Australia. So I don’t get this,” Constance said.
Resilience NSW’s response to the deadly and destructive flooding in the state has been marred by criticism, particularly over slow efforts to get aid to the victims.
An independent flood response inquiry has reportedly recommended that the agency, established after the 2019-20 Black Summer fires, be wound down and Mr Fitzsimmons fired.
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet has promised to make the report of former police commissioner Mick Fuller and chief scientist Mary O’Kane public, but has not yet done so.
Mr Fitzsimmons, the NSW Australian of the Year 2021, was named head of the agency after he rose to prominence during the bushfire disaster.
Flood victims told the inquiry Resilience NSW “just wasn’t there”, while Mr Fitzsimmons said the body was designed to streamline responses to natural disasters.