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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 December 2016) . . Page.. 58 ..


the winter period, and there is a specific staffing strategy in place to deal with that. We did see a significant flu season this year, which not only affected Canberra Hospital presentations in the broader community as a whole but, inevitably, also affected our workforce. Again, I would just reiterate that over the past two years there have been 236 more nursing and midwifery staff added to the ACT Health workforce. I will continue to monitor this closely and I will continue to focus on this as a priority in 2017.

MR PARTON: Can the minister please tell us how common it is for patients to be discharged from the hospital before it is appropriate to do so because of staff or bed shortages?

MS FITZHARRIS: I can assure you, Mr Parton, that patients are not discharged from Canberra hospitals unless it is safe to do so, and that will be done on the clinical advice of the doctors and nurses caring for patients in our hospitals.

Bushfires—preparation

MRS JONES: My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services. Minister, given the extensive rain the ACT has enjoyed through the spring and the late start to the official bushfire season this year, there is a large level of grass and green growth across Canberra leading to potentially high fuel loads as we move into this bushfire season. What actions are being taken to ensure that the ACT is bushfire ready?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mrs Jones for her question. There have been a number of actions: 25 strategic burns over the season for the bushfire area and some 5,000 hectares of strategic grazing and some 6,000 hectares of strategic slashing as well across the territory. But, as Mrs Jones has outlined, the fuel growth has risen, and last Friday we did a public awareness campaign to try to drive Canberrans to look at the opportunities for cleaning up their yards. Particular points went to rural community landholders in relation to bushfire loads and areas.

We have asked them to look at the bushfire opportunities in their areas to ensure that they can be as safe as possible and prepare for the bushfire season. That involves some strategic grading along roads either side of their properties to ensure that fuel loads are down. They are responding. They have been grazing in the areas as well. They have prepared on many occasions opportunities for water storage to fight bushfires should they occur. But also we have moved on a front to ensure our RAFT operators are fully trained. We have helicopters ready to go to fight during the bushfire season, and we have trained officers ready and trained volunteers as well to prepare for this bushfire season.

MRS JONES: Minister, what additional resources are being deployed in preparation for this year’s bushfire season? Additionally, what actions are you undertaking to make sure that if a fire were to approach Canberra, ACT Fire & Rescue could attack it in the BAZ, the bushfire abatement zone?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mrs Jones for her supplementary. As I said, there are a number of works in progress. Those works continue: the slashing, the grazing and


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