Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2011) . . Page.. 2852 ..
members of the Assembly. I think it moves it beyond being simply a matter of government administrative decision making and into the realm of significant public policy. That is the basis on which we feel it is important that the Assembly has a role in this discussion.
Mr Corbell’s amendment to Mr Rattenbury’s proposed amendment negatived.
Mr Rattenbury’s amendment agreed to.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.13): This is a very important issue. Indeed, I have just received an email that says that Canberra has had its driest June in a quarter of a century, with only nine millimetres of rain recorded for the month. I think we all remember the torrential rains and the flooding in Queanbeyan. The dams are full; there is a lot of growth. You can see it, but you can also see that, a third of the way through winter, it is already browning off. The curing has commenced. We saw the warnings on WIN news last night that additional firefighters will be required, and we are expecting, at a minimum, an extremely heavy grassfire season.
With that on the horizon, you have to ask the question: why are we reforming the way fire management in Territory and Municipal Services is administered at this time? We did not get an answer yesterday. The answer was simply, “We’re just talking with one officer and we’re changing the name.” We now have from the minister the assertion that it will enhance the operation of the unit. If that was the case, I am not sure why the minister did not say that yesterday. If members go back and read the Hansard from yesterday, they will see the minister was very cautious because, in a way, it was like he was caught out. He was not going to put his head up above the parapet—a short answer, sit down, get out of the way. And that worries me.
We go back to McLeod; we go back particularly to Doogan and recommendation 41, and I will read it again:
That public land management agencies ensure that their senior personnel have appropriate experience in fire management and are provided with adequate resources and suitably experienced and trained staff to effectively implement fire management programs.
That is the desired outcome. I believe, and the community believes, that that is currently being delivered in the structure that we have. If the minister can come back and explain how his changes—and yesterday, remember members, it was simply, “We’re changing the name,” but apparently now we are splitting the unit, we are moving some to planning, we are putting others elsewhere. It worries me when you get an answer one day and it is contradicted by the minister’s own words the next. And that is the problem with this minister. Mrs Dunne raised the issue of the Nettlefold Street trees from September 2003. This minister was also found guilty of persistently and wilfully misleading the Assembly in June 2004. We have seen the debacles with the GDE; we have seen the debacle with the prison. We now have the ponds, whichever ponds you want to look at.
Mrs Dunne: Whichever one.