Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 November 2015) . . Page.. 3974 ..
Auditor-General as unclear, inconsistent, or making insufficient provision for bushfire preparedness.
That is a very important recommendation.
Recommendation 31 looks at approvals. We had incidents related to us in the auditor’s report where specialist machinery was brought in to do a job but, because the government had not got approvals to use the machinery, it sat idle for some time. How basic is that? We all know that approvals are needed, particularly to operate in national parks. Get those approvals. You know the machine is coming; hopefully, someone knows that they ordered the machines for a period of time. That just seems like basics to me.
Recommendation 32 says, “Let’s make sure that access is maintained in the bushfire prone areas.” Recommendation 33 is only that the government investigate the provision of automated external defibrillators. There was discussion about this in the committee and by some of the witnesses. The AEDs are very easy to use these days; the machine itself talks you through the process. It may be something that saves the life of a firefighter.
Recommendation 34 looks at the application of fire retardant by air. Currently the aerial assets that we use, which are normally helicopters and potentially small light aircraft, do not drop retardant. The purpose of retardant is to make more effective use of the water and the drop. It can be done. It would seem, from the evidence given, that we do not take that option. That is a shame. If you can extend the use of the water by putting on a retardant so that it clings or improves the effectiveness of the water that would be a good thing.
The recommendation then goes on to say “through both rotary and fixed wing application, including the use of large fixed wing tankers”. We have not had large tankers in the ACT. Before the 2009 fires, the Victorian government were offered a converted DC10, which they declined. Now the Russians have a four-engine jet that will scoop water from a water body without landing—very impressive. The Americans have converted a 747-200 series which, I understand, can drop about 75,000 litres at one drop. So there are technologies emerging. They need to be looked at.
We need to make sure that we are as ready for the fire season as we can be. I will finish at this stage. I will discuss the last four recommendations when I close this debate, Madam Speaker.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.30): The inquiry into the Auditor-General’s report No 5 of 2013, bushfire preparedness, produced a number of wide ranging recommendations from the PAC committee. The PAC committee focused specifically on strategic readiness for bushfire prevention and preparedness, on the farm FireWise program, and on the implementation and progress of the audit recommendations.
Many of us were here in Canberra at the time of the 2003 bushfires and, indeed, a number of other bushfires that our territory has been subjected to. They provided us