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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 787..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

The bushfire fuel management plan is a very difficult document. Over time I have seen a number of previous plans developed, and it is an exceedingly difficult thing to do. But what we are seeing is really a very poor performance. We have some places of exceptional work and other places where there are considerable risks where things have not been done properly. We should be seeing better and more consistent cutting of grass, slashing and more appropriate plantings.

When people put in appropriate plantings that do retard fire, do not have officials come along and dig them up and slash them out and make the situation worse than it was in the first place. They should do their job properly and help to make Canberra a safer place in the future. We should support Mr Pratt's original motion. The self-congratulatory amendments that we see coming forward on a regular basis should, as always, be opposed.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (4.17): I will speak to the amendments and then I will close. Firstly, as Mrs Dunne has quite rightly said-and I was pleased to see Dr Foskey raise this point-the opposition totally rejects the government's amendments because they just duck the issue. Dr Foskey is dead right. They just ignore the fact that there is a very important subject to be debated here.

The amendments are a propaganda stunt, an exercise in self-congratulatory praise. Unfortunately, the government's amendments are designed to prevent the minister from engaging in the real debate. I am sure the minister would rather engage in the real debate about how we can better prepare the ACT to meet the bushfire threat, because this is a city that has a very high bushfire threat. It is the nature of the environment in which this capital city exists.

I sympathise with the government over the size of the task that they have, and I would have thought that the minister and I could have debated perhaps how better we as a community-not just the government, but we as a community-could better target the restricted funding that is available to make a better fist of ensuring that the urban edge is better prepared.

The minister's amendment seeks to play the band that an additional $130.775 million has been spent over five years, but that is fairly useless if that money has not been properly targeted. Look at the Christmas period just gone. There were major concerns about the lack of preparation on the urban edge. We have to ask where that money was targeted. That is why we must reject the government's amendments to the motion.

I will wrap up. Firstly, I would like to thank Dr Foskey for her support for this motion. She is quite right that we need to look at improving and increasing the number of BOPs. There are perhaps two issues that I pick up in what Dr Foskey said. She said that burning and slashing could possibly be impractical-I think this is what she said-in biodiverse or ecological areas. I understand her concerns about management of ecological areas, but I would say that it is probably just as impractical, in fact, even more impractical, to leave very large metric tonnages of fuel loads in biodiverse and ecologically sensitive areas in forests and parks.


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