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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (17 November) . . Page.. 2544 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

regime for financial institutions in the ACT; and legislatively extend the rebate provisions under the Debits Tax Act 1997 to eligible persons with a building society or credit union cheque account.

Mr Speaker, I commend this Bill to the Assembly. We would like to debate this Bill next week so that it is in place before 1 December.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan) adjourned.


MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (10.35): I ask for leave to present the Bushfire (Amendment) Bill 1998.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I present the Bushfire (Amendment) Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the purpose of the Bill is to make simple technical amendments to the Bushfire Act 1936. These provide for the Chief Fire Control Officer to declare a total fire ban and provide the power to grant exemption permits. Such exemption permits are for low-risk community activities that include the use of fire in the open during a period when the weather conditions represent an acute fire danger and a total fire ban has been broadcast.

The declaration of a total fire ban is based on a number of technical considerations such as drought indices, levels of grass cutting and short-term weather factors, including wind speed, relative humidity and temperature. Currently the Act provides for the Minister to declare the total fire ban. However, it is appropriate that the declaration of a total fire ban condition be made by the Chief Fire Control Officer, who has the expertise to consider and interpret those technical factors.

The Territory has, on average, about three total fire bans each bushfire season. In normal seasons total fire bans cause only slight disruption to community activities. Unfortunately, the Territory, like many other parts of south-east Australia, is subject to recurring hot, dry seasons, and the 1997-98 bushfire season was particularly difficult in this regard, resulting in 24 total fire bans being declared.

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