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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2539..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Yesterday the United States made another request to Australia for assistance. As a result, they have asked us again to be part of the joint team between the US, Australia and New Zealand. We have agreed, and two more firefighters from the ACT will join the Australian contingent. I can confirm today that Mr Dave Ingram, from the ACT RFS, will be travelling to the United States, along with Mr Hilton Taylor from TAMS. Mr Ingram will be undertaking aerial resource management roles and Mr Taylor will be undertaking a field liaison role. Both will be deployed initially to a base in Boise, Idaho, pending deployment to where they are needed most. They will be flying out of Canberra late tomorrow. I am sure members will join with me in wishing them a safe journey, a safe experience in the United States and a prompt return to Australia.

The fact that, for such a small jurisdiction, we have been able to contribute four members in two international deployments to assist in a very significant fire situation in the United States is, I think, a strong indicator of the level of skills and experience we have within our firefighting services here in the ACT. I wish them a safe journey and a quick return.

MR GENTLEMAN: Mr Speaker, I do not want to pre-empt any opposition questions here but, as a supplementary question, can the minister advise if the ACT is paying for this assistance?

MR CORBELL: The full cost for the four personnel to travel to the United States will be met by the United States government. That is a cost of approximately $US17,000 per person. They meet all costs of overseas deployment. The ACT does not pay for any aspect of it. The benefit we get from this, though, is obviously that we have the opportunity for a number of our personnel who are involved in firefighting activity within the ACT to have the additional experience of being involved in a very large-scale fire incident.

The experience of working in a cross-jurisdictional framework dealing with different types of resources, different mechanisms for managing an incident, different skills in terms of communication and experience in managing fire and responding to wildfire, will stand us in good stead when they return, because they will come back to the ACT with that extra experience and extra skill. That will add to the experience available to us here in the ACT if and when we face bushfires in the ACT again.

Environment—Mulligans Flat nature reserve

DR FOSKEY: My question to the Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services concerns the imminent loss of positions—most particularly park rangers—in what was once Environment ACT. The minister would be aware of the discovery in July of an illegal bike track in the valuable Mulligans Flat nature reserve. When discovered, the government set up patrols by rangers in order to catch the culprits who had destroyed some of the critically endangered habitat when building illegal bike ramps, pits and jumps. Can the minister assure the Assembly that the imminent loss of a number of ranger positions will not make the illegal construction of such tracks more likely and the identification and prosecution of the culprits less likely.

Mrs Dunne: Come on, magpie exterminator!

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