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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 11 November 2021) . . Page.. 3358 ..

an impact. The only way is to start with what we can directly influence and broaden our impact as we go.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bushfire Smoke and Air Quality Strategy 2021-2025—report

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (3.17): Pursuant to standing order 211, I move:

That the Assembly take note of the following paper:

Bushfire Smoke and Air Quality Strategy 2021-2025.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (3.17): The Bushfire Smoke and Air Quality Strategy 2021-2025 outlines the government’s approach to better understanding and managing impacts on our air quality from bushfires and other smoke sources.

In a changing climate, we need to take action to protect people from poor air quality, including from bushfire smoke. Over the 2019-20 summer period, the ACT and surrounding areas were subjected to extended periods of unprecedented, extreme smoke pollution resulting from the black summer bushfires. I am sure that I do not need to remind you of the significant health, environmental, social and economic impacts across our community.

Clean air is fundamental to our health. However, it can be something that we take for granted. As fine particulate pollution crept through the cracks in poorly sealed buildings and impacted those most vulnerable during the bushfires, such as those sleeping rough on the street, this crisis highlighted the wide-ranging and compounding effects of poor air quality on many aspects of our lives.

I would like to start by explaining where this strategy began. The strategy originated as a response to this Assembly acknowledging the impact of the black summer bushfires on our air quality and health. Following the motion introduced by my colleague Minister Rattenbury on 13 February 2020, the Assembly resolved to call on the government to create a whole-of-government strategy on smoke and air quality in the ACT, to be completed and released before the beginning of the 2020-21 fire season and to report to the Assembly on the progress of the strategy in August 2020.

The government responded to the resolution in August 2020, outlining the range of work that had been completed to respond to and prepare for extreme smoke events. The government noted that the development of the strategy was severely impacted by factors including ongoing disaster management and recovery efforts, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, which had not yet concluded.

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