Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 6 Hansard (9 June) . .
It said that that was a sort of a holdover from the day when the bushfire council actually ran bushfire ops, but it is not true. It came out of the deliberations when the 2004 emergencies bill was being prepared. If we are starting from a basis where there are inaccuracies, I think it is very dangerous to proceed when, in some regards, consultation is still underway and in other regards an organisation such as the UFU has stated that they would prefer this was not discussed today.
Part of the reason goes to the BAZ—the bushfire abatement zone. In the presentations that have been put around, one of the nice screens in the presentation states, "One of the proposed changes relates to the removal of the bushfire abatement zone for operational responses." But we then find that the bushfire abatement zone is kept for planning response.
How you can plan for something with a zone in place but then not have that zone in place in an operational sense confounds me in many ways. What you train for is what you carry out. What you plan for is what you carry out. If there is ambiguity about what the value of the bushfire abatement zone is, then perhaps it should be removed altogether. This is one of the concerns raised by many of those who go into the bushfire abatement zone to put out the fires. I think there are significant reasons for this not to proceed tonight.
There are some interesting paragraphs in the government's ES that have raised the ire of a number of people who have brought them to my attention. One of them is that the review noted the council's consultation role being focused on the RFS is inconsistent as it does not have a similar role in relation to the appointments within ACT Fire & Rescue. I wonder how the UFU or the minister would take to that. This is despite ACT Fire & Rescue responding to more grass and bushfires than the RFS, as is expected given ACT Fire & Rescue's professional full-time capacity while the RFS is primarily a volunteer response organisation.
I assume the department prepared this and not the minister. You can read it in a disparaging way to say that ACT Fire & Rescue is professional and full time but the RFS is just a bunch of volunteers. The RFS I go out into the field with is incredibly professional. Some of them probably put more time in than some of the full timers put in. They live this; they love this. I think some of that sort of language in the document is not helpful. It does question their expertise, their experience, their professionalism and their dedication.
It goes on to say that the council does not have these functions under the jurisdictions. Quite frankly, I do not care. The council, I think, has proved itself to be invaluable over a long period of time. I think it still has a very important role to play.
Let me get to the BAZ. There is some work to be done to determine the maps: in effect, what is urban and what is rural. I do not see why that work cannot be commenced immediately. It has been put to me that the legislation does not allow for it. I suspect the legislation does not stop it. I am not certain what clause in the legislation would stop someone from preparing that delineation of their version of what is urban and what is rural.
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