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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2459 ..


With respect to the review process: again we say, minister, “If you are going to go away and investigate, then let us have an answer back here within 90 days,” so we know clearly that you are taking action and the matter is going to be expedited. We look forward to that. We look forward to your response and we look forward to clear-cut action being outlined in this place sooner rather than later.

I move:

Add:

Requests the Government report back to the Assembly within 90 days to demonstrate its willingness to implement new measures as quickly as possible.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (3.50): I support Ms MacDonald’s motion. I certainly agree that the number of house fires in Canberra, with an increase of 16 per cent during the winter months, is worrying. The public does need to remain vigilant in their use of heating appliances and electric blankets. Every generation needs to be educated about these things. Certainly, I very vividly remember a picture that I saw, probably as a child, of a child’s sleepwear catching fire from that child standing too close to a heater. I am not sure that we are seeing those images any more. I think that anything that we do has to be—

Mr Hargreaves: For the good.

DR FOSKEY: Yes. The ACT Fire Brigade has reminded residents of the importance of having a working smoke alarm and, should a fire occur in the home, a home escape plan. I must say that I was interested in Ms MacDonald’s incredibly informative talk. I certainly realised that I do not have a home escape plan, but I do not have a deadlock either.

Mr Hargreaves: Do you have a smoke alarm?

DR FOSKEY: Yes. I am in a government house, Mr Hargreaves. Installing a home smoke detector is a quick and efficient way of ensuring the safety of a home.

I support Ms MacDonald’s call to investigate compulsory smoke alarms for all residential dwellings. However, it is important that people know how to stop a vexatious smoke alarm going off. During the January 2003 fires, some friends of mine in a guvvie house had to call the fire brigade to turn the screech of theirs off at 3.00 am. Unless you have heard one of these things, you do not know how much it makes you feel like evacuating your home even when there is no fire.

When the same thing happened to me—I have got to say, by the way, that it was before they were electronic, when they had batteries in them—when my alarm used to go off every time the toast burnt, which was, unfortunately, a little too often, I found myself dismantling it, taking batteries out of it. I would say no battery-operated smoke alarms.

On the other hand, there is the desire to kill a smoke alarm that will not turn itself off and that, in fact, starts going for no reason at all. I can tell you they respond to broom handles


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