Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (30 January) . . Page.. 2..
MR HARGREAVES (10.33): I seek leave to move a motion to alter the membership of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
MR HARGREAVES: I move:
Ms Gallagher be discharged from the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment as a representative of the Labor Party and, in her place, Mr Hargreaves be appointed as a member of the Committee; and
Ms Gallagher be discharged from attending the Standing Committee on Public Accounts as a representative of the Labor Party and, in her place, Ms MacDonald be appointed as a member of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Ministerial statement and papers
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (10.33): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement concerning the ACT bushfire crisis.
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, the bushfires of 18 January were without a doubt the single greatest catastrophe ever to hit this city and one of the worst natural disasters Australia has ever suffered. The combination of strong winds and high temperatures caused a firestorm that swept into Canberra. The fires moved faster than emergency services personnel could travel. It was a once-in-a-100-years event, and the entire ACT emergency services personnel, even though their numbers were boosted by fire crews from interstate, could not stand in the face of the fire.
For years to come the day will be remembered as Canberra's darkest hour. Before that day, it had been 51 years since a home in Canberra was lost to a bushfire. At last count the fires destroyed 530 homes and damaged hundreds more. Most tragically of all, it claimed four lives.
Although much of the focus has been on the suburbs of southern Canberra, this was not just an urban disaster. More than 30 farms in the Canberra region were destroyed, with sheep losses of over 3,000, cattle losses of approximately 150 and over 30 horses killed. Untold numbers of birds and native animals, as well as dogs and cats and other pets, also died.