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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (31 March) . . Page.. 1416..

Bushfires-destruction of fences

MR CORNWELL: My question is to the Minister for Environment, Mr Stanhope. The ACT rural lessee Steve Angus said on Stateline last week:

We were told at a meeting in Tharwa two weeks after the fires that the ACT government was going to do...all the boundary fences adjoining the national park or forestry but that was it and nothing else has happened since then...we're working on them ourselves but we're not getting any help from our neighbour, Namadgi national park. ...

We can't restock until we get our boundaries sorted out because the cattle, well at a thousand dollars for a cow and calf at the moment and I can't afford, at fifty or sixty thousand dollars, to have them disappear into the hills every second or third day. Which is what they're doing. That's just where we are at the moment fourteen, fifteen months after the fires.

Yesterday, in response to a question from me on this subject, you said:

It is generally accepted that there will be some sharing of responsibility for fences between neighbours. In relation to government nature reserves and the road reserves, the ACT government has a responsibility.

After you were brought back from a digression about internal fences, you went on to say:

In relation to shared fences, to only boundary fences-that is, fences between leasehold land and territory land-the territory has accepted its full responsibility.

However, the letter of 19 March from Dr Maxine Cooper, executive director of Environment ACT, from which I quoted yesterday, clearly says:

...rural boundary fences...are to be repaired on the basis that...on completion of the repair work, fencing that is not already your responsibility and property is to become your and any subsequent owner's responsibility and property.

Who is right, Minister-you or the executive director?

MR STANHOPE: Responsibility for fencing is a complex issue.

Mr Smyth: Who is right-you or Maxine?

MR STANHOPE: There is no inconsistency between the two statements. It is a question of the situation now and the situation that might prevail in the circumstance of the ACT government at this time accepting that it will provide significant funds for the repair of rural fences. We are doing that. I will check the figures to date-it is very complex and detailed, and the legal position is amazingly diffuse-but at this stage I think we have provided around $11/2 million in funding for rural fences. As I say, I will get the details of the expenditure to date.

From memory, there is about $21/2 million for rural fencing in the third appropriation bill. The government has already provided about $11/2 million to repair rural fences, and I

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