Page 63 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 8 February 2022

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efficiencies of AI and algorithm, we may well be able to have more police on the street rather than simply answering the telephone. I think that is a good response in this day and age, to be able to have more police responding to crime as it occurs, rather than simply taking the report.

ACT Emergency Services Agency—Belconnen storm

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Minister for Transport and City Services. Minister, how did the ACT government respond in the immediate aftermath of January’s serious Belconnen storm to support affected suburbs and communities?

MR STEEL: I thank Mr Pettersson for his question. This storm that ravaged Belconnen and a range of other suburbs in the north of Canberra on 3 January was not the start to the new year that Canberrans wanted or needed. After an exhausting 2021, and a festive season dominated by COVID-19 and disrupted holiday plans, this was the last thing that they needed. To support the community at this very difficult time, crews from across the ACT government got to work right away, many of them coming back from leave early to help the thousands of households who lost power or suffered damage to their homes from falling trees and debris.

City Services moved quickly to address hazards on roads, driveways and pathways, and our Urban Treescapes team responded to dozens of requests for assistance to assess damaged or fallen trees and provide advice to residents. Molonglo ACT Rural Fire Service established a support facility in Higgins to provide residents with access to showers, washing machines, dryers, electronics, chargers, food waste disposal and more. We rolled out an addition green bin service collection for 14 Belconnen suburbs in the fortnight following the storm, in two stages, to help with the disposal of garden debris and leaf litter. We also provided free drop-off for food waste at our resource management centre to support those residents who were unfortunate enough to lose power, in some cases for several days, resulting in food spoilage.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, can you please provide an update on how the clean-up operation is going and priority activities for this?

MR STEEL: I thank Mr Pettersson for his supplementary. Cleaning up after an extreme weather event like this takes months of hard work, even with our crews getting started in the immediate aftermath. Last week we announced that additional crews would be deployed to help with the government’s coordinated clean-up effort. More than 20 workers from the ACT’s Parks and Conservation Service have joined the clean-up effort, doubling the workforce on the ground. As part of the additional capability, a dedicated storm response coordinator has also been appointed to strategically manage resources and ensure that the most affected areas are dealt with as quickly as possible.

Once immediate safety issues on roadways, driveways and pathways were made safe, our team turned their efforts to public land, particularly in high-use areas like shopping centres and schools. As we clear through this work, attention will then turn to nature strips, playgrounds, sportsgrounds and parks. However, even with these extra resources, the large number of damaged trees and branches on public land

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