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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 6 Hansard (9 May) . . Page.. 1847..


MADAM SPEAKER: No, I have asked you to come to order, Ms Burch. I am actually getting a little tired of when I ask members to come to order that you always have to have another word. I called members to order because I wanted to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of the University of the Third Age, who are here on an information session, and I welcome them to the Assembly.

Questions without notice

Macarthur horse paddocks—fire

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. Minister, there was a fire at Macarthur horse paddocks on 15 April which took 90 minutes to extinguish and damaged approximately 8,000 square metres of the paddocks. Local residents noted that the fire could have been avoided had the metre-high grass been mown and adequately maintained. A resident advised that he had approached the government on several occasions to get pasture mown but was "handballed from one department to another". Minister, what changes will you make to make sure that local residents' complaints are given attention and action before a crisis occurs, rather than after?

MR RATTENBURY: I thank Mr Seselja for the question. I think there are two elements to your question, Mr Seselja. One is the state of the grass and the other is the service response that the residents received. On the first, as you well know, Territory and Municipal Services is responsible for the implementation of the bushfire operations plan. That is a territory-wide strategic assessment of what sort of fuel reduction various parts of the city need. There is a whole range of responses, from the efforts we have seen recently in Namadgi with fuel reduction right down to slashing around the suburbs and creating appropriate abatement zones designed to protect the suburbs.

Certainly, over the summer we have had some good examples where small fires have come to a dead stop where those mown zones have kicked in. I am not aware of the specific details around the area that you have referred to but there is obviously a rating of that area in the context of the bushfire operations plan. All the reports I received over the summer were that the plan was being implemented and there were no concerns from TAMS about delays in implementation of the identified fuel reduction needed under the bushfire operations plan.

On the specific issue of the residents not receiving appropriate feedback or being handballed around, I am disappointed to hear that. The feedback I have generally is that people get a very good response when they contact Canberra Connect. The purpose of Canberra Connect is that people are most often put through directly to the contact officer that they need.

Of course, the system does break down occasionally. I receive complaints from time to time. I will take some advice on what the record was. All calls are recorded and there is generally a record of what has happened to a particular complaint. I will seek some specific advice on this complaint and whether there is a record or records of it.


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