Mr MATT KEAN ( Hornsby ) ( 16:21 ): When people respond to a mayday call they usually do not expect to receive an Australian Bravery Award, but this is exactly what happened when Mount Colah resident Mitchell Lee Burge heard chatter over the radio about a kayaker signalling for help. With no response from Marine Rescue, the New South Wales Coast Guard or NSW Water Police, Mr Burge knew the risks but also knew that he had to at least try to help—especially as the sun was beginning to set. On rough seas and in torrential rain, Mr Burge navigated his vessel to the kayaker's last known location, with complete radio silence from others. In desperation, Mr Burge and his crewmate used an old fishing method to help find the kayaker: They placed the boat in neutral and drifted for a few minutes. They then plotted a course and half an hour later they saw the kayaker in the distance.
But it did not stop there. In rough seas with close to no light, they knew there was so much at stake. Fearing accidentally crushing the kayaker, or losing him to the violent seas, Mr Burge and his crewmate used a rope and life jackets to get him in. Returning to headlands via Palm Beach, the emergency services were anticipating their return. Today I pay tribute to Mr Burge's tremendous bravery and courage, and thank him for selfless efforts in saving the life of another.
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