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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2647..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

The number of people involved in the exercise will vary, but at its height we anticipate that, when we include police, emergency workers and volunteers, around 300 personnel will be involved. Television advertisements will appear on all three commercial stations from Sunday, 27 August, with radio and press advertisements appearing over the next few days. It is a federally funded exercise, being conducted in partnership between the ACT and federal governments. It is important to note that the ACT is well prepared in its counter-terrorism procedures. The territory is the seat of the federal government and is home to a number of federal agencies and the national offices of private and non-government organisations.

The exercise will occur over three days. On Monday, 28 August the exercise will commence with a number of intergovernmental committee meetings held to test strategic political management and decision-making. On Tuesday, 29 August there will be a simulated incident at the Belconnen bus interchange. This will involve police and emergency services responding to a scenario.

I want to reassure the Assembly and the broader community that this is only an exercise and although people will see a large number of police and emergency services personnel in the Belconnen area at that time, it is only an exercise and it is not a matter for concern. As part on the exercise, on Tuesday we will see a mass evacuation of almost 6,000 people. During this phase, emergency workers and volunteers will evacuate a large number of government departments in Belconnen. Westfield Belconnen, the shopping mall, will also test its evacuation procedures. It is very important to reassure the public that it is an exercise; it is not the real thing.

To prepare for this, 10,000 advisory notices explaining the changed traffic and transport conditions have already been printed. These will be issued to ACTION bus drivers and through Canberra Connect shopfronts over the next five days. On the day of the exercise parking inspectors and SES volunteers will also be handing out thousands of these notices to Belconnen residents, motorists and businesses.

The Belconnen bus interchange will temporarily be relocated from its permanent location to Lathlain Street for the duration of the exercise. This will not affect peak hour services in the morning or the afternoon, nor will it affect school services in the afternoon. They will be resuming from Belconnen bus interchange from 2.30.

Exercise AUGUST ACT will then continue on Wednesday, 30 August at the disused Ginninderra high school site. Information flyers will be sent to residents in those suburbs informing them of the event. There will be no disruption to residents in that area.

The exercise has been in the planning stages since April. In October last year we participated in a multijurisdictional exercise, along with Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games. But exercise AUGUST ACT will be the largest evacuation exercise ever conducted in the history of the ACT. It is a very significant step in ensuring the preparedness and responsiveness of our police and emergency services should we ever face a real incident of this nature.

Mr Stanhope: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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