Page 236 - Week 01 - Thursday, 10 February 2022
personally experienced quicker emergency responses after far more serious tropical cyclones when they lived in other jurisdictions.
At the end of last week, fully one month after the storm hit Belconnen, we were told that 23 workers from the government’s parks and conservation team had been assigned to help with storm clean-up. This week in question time Minister Steel clarified that this step had doubled the number of workers assigned to the clean-up. He also noted:
A dedicated storm response coordinator has also been appointed to strategically manage resources.
The obvious question is why it took this government nearly five weeks to appoint someone to coordinate its response to a storm that is still causing difficulties for west Belconnen residents and why did it take nearly five weeks to shift some workers around? One ACT public servant shared with me his surprise that he was not immediately assigned to help with the clean-up the day after the storm. That is a very good question, one that suggests a serious lack of government coordination or, even worse, government commitment.
At this point, it appears that Tonga, with a population roughly the same as Belconnen’s, will have finished cleaning up from the largest volcanic eruption of the 21st century before Labor and the Greens have managed to clean up from a single thunderstorm!
In conclusion, I share two other bits of common feedback that I have received. First, people who live in dual-fuel households have expressed their gratitude for the reliability of the gas network. Having natural gas appliances during a week without electricity allowed at least cooking and water heating. Second, residents, overwhelmed with damage to trees and gardens, have made it very clear how grateful they are that the Canberra Liberals halted and then reversed Minister Steel’s stubborn determination to close the green waste recycling in Belconnen.
We clearly need a committee inquiry to look carefully into these and other related issues. As residents have said to me, the response to January’s storm has left them deeply worried what might happen if a bigger or more widespread event were to happen in Canberra. I commend this motion to the Assembly.
MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (11.58): I want to start off by thanking all the parties for their support of this motion and also Minister Davidson for her support of this motion. The Canberra Liberals will be supporting the amendment to the motion.
I would also like to thank Mrs Kikkert and her office for the hard work that they have done over the last five weeks supporting the community, reaching out to the community and advocating on their behalf. Mrs Kikkert is a very strong advocate for her community. She has a passion for her community, and they recognise that and that is why she received so many inquiries in relation to gaining support after this storm event. It is obviously time for this territory to move on from ad hoc responses to storms that hit our community.