Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 2 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 484..
lightning-strike fires in Namadgi national park says it all about the lessons that have been learnt and what we now know we need to do to deal with those types of fires. (Time expired.)
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Berry.
MS BERRY: Minister, what is the outlook for the rest of the bushfire season?
MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Berry for the question. The Bureau of Meteorology is continuing to predict average daytime temperatures and average rainfall over the period February to April this year. The general weather trend for the foreseeable future appears to be indicating something similar to recent patterns of predominantly dry with warm to hot temperatures and intermittent storm activity that will bring some brief respite but does not ameliorate the overall bushfire risk. For this reason the full suite of the government's emergency planning arrangements are prepared in anticipation of such conditions.
Grassland fuel loads have increased significantly due to the above average rains experienced in the territory over the past two seasons. The drought indices that determine fuel moisture—that is, the level of potentially dry fuels available to burn—are very high, indicating that fuels are still very dry and ready to burn. Grass curing rates are still between 70 and 100 per cent, with the majority at around 90 per cent. Therefore, any fires starting in the grasslands will spread quickly and will significantly increase in their intensity and rate of spread on very hot, dry and windy days. As a consequence, the Rural Fire Service has been prepared for this bushfire season predominated by grassfire. The prolonged heat during January has highlighted the ongoing curing of these grasslands and we still need to be alert and prepared for the remainder of this bushfire season.
MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Smyth.
MR SMYTH: Minister, has the debrief of those RSF staff and volunteers who have participated in the activities of 8 January this year occurred? If not, why not?
MR CORBELL: I am not aware whether it has occurred or not. Obviously, a debrief is a standard practice and I will seek some further advice on that issue.
Schools—early intervention program
MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training and it relates to the ETD half-yearly performance reports. Minister, 299 students with developmental delays and disabilities have enrolled in early intervention programs in the first six months of the financial year. Only 400 places are allocated for the year. Given that disability diagnosis can happen throughout the year, what gives you confidence that the number of children requiring this service will not exceed the budgeted 400, given that it is already nearly 75 per cent of that number?
MS BURCH: I thank Mr Seselja for his question. I do not have the half-yearly report in front of me, but I do have confidence that the department manages the referrals to