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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3305 ..


MR BARR: No, the ACT executive and the parliamentary Labor Party have the full sovereignty, under our party rules and constitution, to determine the enactment of policy. We have a process, as I have indicated, within the Labor Party where rank-and-file members, policy committees, affiliate unions and others contribute to policymaking. That is why our side of politics delivers better policies than yours: because we have a process that engages our extensive membership, which is significantly larger than on your side of politics, and we draw upon a much wider base of input than just the interests of the big end of town, which entirely dominates the policy agenda of the Liberal Party.

If you want to talk about party democracy, and if you want to talk about party processes, I will always defend the Labor Party's democratic processes. We conduct our affairs in public. The media attend our conferences. They know what goes on, and that is an important part of an open, democratic, mainstream political party.

It is not the case that the same rules apply to those opposite. As we know, they try to keep everything very secret. What we do know is that they represent the A to Z of conservatism. From Alistair to Zed, they are the conservatives of this city's political landscape: the dinosaurs, the throwbacks to the 1950s. We have seen that on nearly every issue before this chamber in this parliamentary term, and they continue to represent only the far right wing. (Time expired.)

Bushfires—preparation

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, why has the ACT bushfire season been brought forward?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Pettersson for his interest in the safety of all Canberrans. Our city, of course, is all too familiar with what Mother Nature can bring, and this is why the ACT government takes the threat of bushfires very seriously.

Under our Emergency Services Act the ESA commissioner is charged with ensuring that our city is safe from the threat of bushfires. This act also sets out the circumstances under which the commissioner can bring forward the prescribed bushfire season start date of 1 October. The season will commence early because of the dry weather. This has been the driest first six months of any year since 1986. Also, soil moisture is very low. Unfortunately the outlook does remain grim.

The BOM has advised that we are facing low rainfall and higher than expected temperatures in the coming months. The BOM is also advising that the likelihood of an El Nino forming this summer is higher than normal. Given this outlook, the commissioner consulted the Bushfire Council and determined that commencing the bushfire season from 1 September 2018 was the prudent course.

I also want to assure the Assembly that preparations have been and are being made to mitigate the threat. However, it is also important to keep in mind that there is no complete inoculation from the threats that Mother Nature can bring.


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