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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 26 September 2019) . . Page.. 3932 ..

We know that fuel is one of the basic elements required to sustain a bushfire. For thousands of years, Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land in the territory, have practised sustainable land management. Cultural burning is used by Aboriginal peoples not only to reduce fuel and bushfire hazards but to enhance the health of the land and its people. There is a lot we can learn by recognising and using the cultural expertise of traditional custodians in the sustainable management of country. That is why this SBMP brings together traditional methods and contemporary practices to achieve the best results for the environment and the community.

We know that more people will be affected by bushfires as a result of climate change. The work we are doing in the community to raise awareness of the risks of bushfires, increase preparedness and build resilience highlights the effect that a changing climate and bushfire have on the community. Providing tools, information and education in addition to providing timely, effective fire danger information, advice and warnings will assist citizens to make informed decisions. Developing a bushfire survival plan is a key action that all Canberrans can undertake to prepare themselves and their family for responding to bushfire incidents and emergencies.

The SBMP contains 92 actions to continue to mitigate the risk of bushfires in the ACT over the next five years. To achieve this, it ensures that the appropriate equipment, resources, doctrine and capabilities are in place. It contains measurements to plan and manage the reduction of fuel hazards across the territory and ensures that there are enough qualified and skilled people to assist in an emergency. At the national level, the territory will continue to work with national partners on significant issues such as the new risk reduction framework and the national fire danger rating system.

I would like to acknowledge the work of the ACT Bushfire Council and its chair, Dr Sarah Ryan. The council’s work in providing advice to the ESA as community representatives and the council’s role in assisting the commissioner to monitor the scope and effectiveness of the SBMP are greatly appreciated and respected.

Our bushfire preparedness and response is led by experts. We have some of the best in the country and the world employed across the ACT public service. In responding and preparing, we must trust and be guided by their advice. This is very important. A minister’s role is not to be directing operations, giving orders as to when hazard reduction burns should be occurring or how a bushfire should be brought under control. I believe in public service and back our officials.

I also wish to recognise the work of the numerous community groups, organisations and individuals who all contributed to the development of this plan, either by attending one of the many consultation forums or by providing feedback. Thank you for your input into the development of this plan. With the reality of climate change upon us and with the predicted increases in intensity and frequency of the occurrence of bushfires, we all have a responsibility to ensure that the people of Canberra remain vigilant in being bushfire ready.

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