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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 November 2018) . . Page.. 4987 ..


(2) calls on the ACT Government to continue working with the community to help prepare Canberra for this year’s bushfire season.”.

Mrs Jones’s motion presents a one-sided picture of bushfire management in the territory. Mr Rattenbury has foreshadowed to me that he will move an amendment to my amendment that acknowledges the impact of climate change, both now and ongoing, on bushfires. As I have spoken about in this place before, Mother Nature may not be kind to us this summer. Expert advice is that the territory faces increased risk from extreme weather events. This includes bushfires, heatwaves and wind storms.

This year’s bushfire season has started early. As we heard, the Pierces Creek fire would not normally occur at this time of year. It would normally occur after Christmas. It does show the influence that climate change is having. It also reinforces the importance of the public message that the ESA has been issuing to the community: Canberra, be bushfire ready.

Let me again reassure members that the ACT government, including the ESA, is better prepared for a bushfire emergency than ever before. There are a range of ways that the city prepares for a bushfire. These include hazard reduction burns, as well as slashing, grazing, mowing, physical removal of vegetation, and trail upgrades and maintenance.

The ACT also has a great relationship, and a memorandum of understanding in place, with New South Wales in relation to emergency management. The ACT Emergency Services Agency has conducted, and will continue to conduct, a range of community education and preparedness activities. Throughout October, November and the coming months, ESA volunteers and staff will be directly engaging with the residents of Canberra’s highest risk properties through the “Canberra, be bushfire ready” doorknock campaign.

The ESA is reaching out to about 5,000 homes in areas of greatest risk to discuss the importance of preparing for emergencies. The ACT Rural Fire Service has been working with communities through preparedness workshops and presentations to schools, embassies, libraries, community organisations and local clubs. ACT Fire & Rescue has held open days for the community fire units to encourage preparedness and to build recruitment for this valuable resource.

The ACT State Emergency Service has recently undertaken the 10th annual Legacy gutter cleaning program and in recent months has also conducted a targeted storm season community engagement program. All of these activities sit alongside the ongoing program of community engagement for all ESA services. Part of the ESA’s community engagement includes educating the community on the bushfire warning messages used by the ESA.

After the bushfires in Victoria in 2009, the Australasian Fire and Emergency Authorities Council facilitated consultation across all jurisdictions to reach agreement on common terms, trigger points and common messages for information and warnings to the community. This resulted in the establishment of bushfire alerts. Those alerts


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