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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . .

Page.. 3198..

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (11.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present this bill today. This bill introduces amendments that will strengthen our bushfire prevention activities in the ACT and support our emergency service personnel to prepare and respond to emergencies when they occur. The Emergencies Act was introduced in 2004 following the 2003 Canberra bushfires and provides a consolidated, all-hazards approach to emergency management in the territory.

Emergency service agencies need to be prepared and have clear governance arrangements in place to ensure the most effective and coordinated response eventuates when major emergencies and disasters occur. The Emergencies Act outlines the governance arrangements regarding the powers and functions of the Emergency Services Commissioner, chief officers, emergency controllers and the four emergencies services being ACT Fire & Rescue, ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Rural Fire Service and ACT State Emergency Service.

The Emergencies Act also outlines the planning activities required across government to ensure we are ready as a community to respond to and recover from a major emergency or disaster in the ACT. This includes the development of the ACT emergency plan and a range of specific hazard plans which provide detail around our emergency management arrangements, including who will lead the emergency response.

Earlier this week, I tabled the third version of the five-year ACT strategic bushfire management plan which addresses the ever-present risk of bushfires to the territory. The consultation undertaken to develop that plan has contributed to the development of proposed amendments in this bill that will strengthen a number of sections in the bushfire prevention chapter of the Emergencies Act. In addition, the ACT Auditor-General, in her performance audit into the ACT's bushfire preparedness in 2013, also recommended a number of amendments to the act.

Amendments included in this bill seek to improve our bushfire prevention activities and include better alignment of various government plans for public land such as the strategic bushfire management plan required by the Emergencies Act and plans of management required by the Planning and Development Act to enhance guidance to managers of public land around issues of public safety and conservation; better alignment of the requirements on leaseholders living in the bushfire abatement zone to prepare a bushfire operational plan every five years, with the requirement under the Planning and Development Act to enter land management agreements with government every five years; and increased penalties for those that discard lit cigarettes, particularly those flicking lit cigarettes from moving vehicles, from $200 to $300, reflecting the fire danger posed by this dangerous behaviour.

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