Page 4777 - Week 16 - Thursday, 29 November 1990

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Thursday, 29 November 1990


MR SPEAKER (Mr Prowse) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.


Debate resumed from 25 October 1990, on motion by Mr Duby:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MRS GRASSBY (10.30): At the outset of this debate let me say that the Labor Party is pleased that the Government has brought on this Bill and, in particular, that it has attempted to protect firefighters from legal action arising as a result of their duties. However, we have some concerns with these amendments, which I will deal with later in my speech.

I would first like to address the question of consultation in relation to this Bill. When this Bill was first tabled, I wrote to a number of organisations that I thought would have an interest in this area. I have received a number of interesting replies. In particular, Mr Phil Cheney, the Principal Research Scientist in the CSIRO Bushfire Research Unit, has expressed a number of concerns about the Bill. In his response, Mr Cheney said:

Although I was a member of the Bushfire Council subcommittee that initiated the changes to the Ordinance, this committee was not given the opportunity to review the drafting instructions that were sent from the Conservation and Land Management Branch. I have expressed grave doubts about the wording of parts of this Bill through the council and requested an opportunity to discuss these concerns with the drafting branch, but on each occasion I was refused.

Also, the ACT Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades Association said in its response to me:

Between May 1988 and May 1990 the Bushfire Council had no input or chance to comment on the draft legislation until it finally appeared.

And further:

Cabinet was told that the Bushfire Council supported the form of the proposed legislation then before Cabinet. This is simply not true, because council was not permitted to see the proposed legislation.

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