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Bushfire hazard reduction - implications for air quality in the ACT.
Action: (i) NSW EPA to draft a protocol for NSW/ACT liaison about future fuel hazard reduction burns, including notification issue. (NSW EPA)
(ii) OOE to prepare letter from ACT Minister to NSW Minister, noting progress.
There were other items discussed at that meeting about a number of things that were of significance to the ACT. I table those minutes of that meeting, Mr Speaker. I think that that was reasonable progress - acknowledgment by the New South Wales authorities that there was a problem and commitment on their part to work with us towards finding a solution to the problem. I am happy to sit down at this point, Mr Speaker, if Mr Berry would like to withdraw his motion, in acknowledgment of the fact that it has no legs. But Mr Berry looks a bit embarrassed, so perhaps I will press on.
Mr Speaker, the New South Wales officials were advised that I was writing to the Minister about this matter. I will table that letter shortly. Unfortunately, as we know, their efforts were not quick enough, and the following week Canberra again experienced smoke from burning off. It is a matter of regret to me that the New South Wales officials did not rush back to us with the protocol drafted. After all, it affects them, in a sense, quite heavily as well. They are entitled to work out the protocol of their side. I think that is fair enough. Burning in the Budawang and Deua national parks did cause a problem for the ACT in the following week. When that occurred, in the following week, I wrote to the New South Wales Minister, Pam Allan, seeking her assistance in ensuring that effective consultation with the ACT in relation to hazard reduction burning in New South Wales would occur.
Mr Berry asks why I did not write to Pam Allan before that. He asks why I did not write to her when this problem came up on 31 March. There is a very good reason: There was not a Minister in New South Wales at that time.
Mr Berry: Yes, there was.
MR HUMPHRIES: No, there was not. The New South Wales Labor Government did not take office and did not appoint Ministers, I am advised, until 7 April.
Mr Berry: All your people were caretakers right up until then.
MR HUMPHRIES: They were caretaking Ministers. They were not in a position to make decisions about these matters. So, it was not until 6 April - I beg your pardon - - -
Mr Berry: You are just trying to mislead and distort things, Gary. There were Ministers in place, and you know it.
MR SPEAKER: Order! You were heard in comparative silence, Mr Berry. I ask that the same courtesy be extended to the Minister.