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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 327 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Even though we could rate the firefighting and support efforts as top class, the police and Emergency Services always seek to review their procedures, processes and plans after an emergency, and this time has been no different. There have been operations-level debriefings and strategic-level debriefings under the aegis of the ACT Emergency Management Committee. The services and various agencies will fine-tune some of their procedures and continue to work at improving coordination across the whole of government, to be more prepared for any future emergencies.

The bushfires of Christmas 2001 were the most dangerous and threatening to the Canberra community for many decades, and the courage, commitment and outstanding effort by all involved are a major credit to the professionalism, skill and community spirit of our bushfire fighters, be they professional or amateur.

Mr Speaker, I commend to the Assembly the efforts of all involved in this emergency, particularly our dedicated volunteers, and I commend the motion to the house.

MRS DUNNE (11.25): Mr Speaker, I rise in support of the minister's motion. It was indeed a dark day for Canberra. I was not here. I was sitting watching firefighters in the Woodburn state forests fight fires over the Christmas period. I was constantly aware but resisted the temptation to ring the Emergency Services Bureau to find out what was going on. I thought that was one phone call they could do without.

It is with pride that I stand in support of this motion to pay tribute to the bushfire volunteers and the bushfire fighters from across the ACT and southern region and to pay testament to their pluck and their valour and to the planning and professionalism of the ACT Emergency Services Bureau. I have taken particular time to talk to Emergency Services about what happened and to talk about the things they have learned from their debriefing. I have learned that we in the ACT are extremely fortunate to have an Emergency Services Bureau which is so professional and spends so much time planning and anticipating these things so that when these events, unwelcome as they are, come along they know how to immediately swing into action and make sure that everything happens in a timely fashion.

The main thing I would like to do today is to pay particular testament to the volunteers. We all know that in the ACT the firefighting task falls across a range of sectors. There are people in the ACT Fire Brigade and areas of Urban Services like ACT Forests and Urban Parks and Places who have in their duty statement the responsibility to fight bushfires. But most of the people on the fire ground were volunteers.

We were reminded last year, the International Year of Volunteers, that volunteering is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I ask you, Mr Speaker: what is more extraordinary than putting your life on the line on the fire ground for your community, with no other reward than the warm feeling that you are serving your neighbour? I think this is something people in the ACT need to embrace as we acknowledge the great strength we have in bushfire brigades from Hall to Guises Creek, from Tharwa to Molonglo, and ensure our continuing support for bushfire fighters everywhere.

I am pleased that the government has organised a tribute today which members on this side will warmly embrace and participate in, and also the foreshadowed Christmas in March celebrations which I understand will be taking place at Tidbinbilla for firefighters

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