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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 August 2018) . . Page.. 3306 ..

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, what preparations have been made regarding this year’s ACT bushfire season?

MR GENTLEMAN: That is another excellent question from Mr Pettersson. There are a range of ways to tackle the threat from bushfires. These include prescribed burns, which mainly occur in autumn, grass slashing, stock grazing, fuel removal and chemical control of fuel loads.

To help manage the threat, a bushfire operation plan, the BOP, is prepared each year in consultation with the ACT Rural Fire Service, the ACT Bushfire Council and the ESA. Many of the activities under the BOP are delivered by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate.

I am pleased to advise that the EPSDD have achieved 97 per cent implementation of activities identified and approved in the 2017-18 EPSDD BOP. This includes completing 37 burns, slashing over 4,700 hectares and strategic grazing across more than 6,000 hectares of land. In addition many of the activities that will be included in the 2018-19 BOP are already underway.

The government is also communicating with residents across Canberra about the dangers of the bushfire season and how they can prepare. This includes through doorknocking of houses in bushfire-prone areas, open days and work undertaken by the community fire units. While the advice I have from our officials is that this city is better prepared for a bushfire emergency than ever before, it is important to remember that we all need to make efforts to reduce the threat and that we can never mitigate the threat 100 per cent.

MS CHEYNE: Minister, does global warming have any impact on bushfires in the ACT region?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Cheyne for her interest in the environment. The government takes all aspects of bushfires seriously, including climate change. We are not only preparing for the coming season but also looking to lead national and international efforts to tackle dangerous global warming.

The impacts of a warming planet are already being felt across our nation, with bushfires being a particular example. Experts have warned that global warming will cause drier, warmer and longer fire seasons and also cause more intense fires. For example, a senior BOM climatologist told an emergency management conference last year that the length of the fire season in Australia has been increasing and that Australia’s forest fire danger index is also rising, with fire danger likely to increase throughout the remainder of this century. We are already seeing these impacts in our own part of Australia.

Failing to tackle climate change seriously is not only environmental vandalism but also economic stupidity. As I have already noted in this place, experts have warned that the economic cost to our region is set to double by the middle of this century. The year 2050 is only a few decades away and the cost of bushfires to New South Wales

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