Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 331 ..
MRS CROSS (continuing):
Large bushfires in central Canberra are unexpected at the best of times and certainly more so on Christmas Eve. I think the quick response shown by our brigades and volunteers says a lot for their commitment and professionalism. Their efforts, bravery, and sacrifice are recognised and applauded by our community. They deserve not only our highest admiration but ongoing recognition. I, as a member of this place, regard these people as heroes, typically unsung heroes. It is comforting for me and others close to me to know that we can all rest safely in our homes at night and in our places of work during the day knowing that these fine men and women are there to protect us, our homes and our families. God bless them all and keep them safe always.
MR HARGREAVES (11.41): I wish to add my voice to that of other members in congratulating those people who put themselves out so professionally during what I consider to be a fairly significant emergency which attacked our territory. I know that in past years, before coming here, I was trained in some emergency management procedures. We were always waiting and training in the "what if" department. I know that Mr Smyth is a member of Guises Creek brigade and that they do that sort of thing as well. We all train for the "what if" situation. It was not a "what if" this time; it was a big one. It was not just a grass fire that could be used as a fairly serious training exercise; it was full on. I can remember a time not too many years ago when a bushfire came over the hill towards O'Connor and Miller Street was threatened. But this latest spate of deliberately lit fires posed a significant threat to the ACT.
I note that the minister has provided us with a list of organisations which came together and operated as a team to fight this fire. I also would like to pay my tribute to those people who sat in the background-not at the forefront, not where the red stuff was, not chucking wet stuff on the red stuff to make brown stuff into black stuff, but the people who were behind it, the people who were preparing in case the emergency got out of hand, the people who were preparing evacuation centres and the people who were preparing for the disasters that could strike people in their everyday life.
If my memory is correct, Chris Healy was in charge of the evacuation process. People like Chris Healy developed plans to evacuate people and process them should disaster strike. They also need a mention, because they do their bit as well. Without taking anything away from those heroes and heroines who did such a great job, we need to understand that they are part of very wide team. It is a credit to those people who provide the service in the ACT.
Some history might be interesting for members. We know about the Bushfire Council, but members may not be aware that in 1984-on 22 November, to be exact-the inaugural meeting of the Volunteer Bushfire Brigades Association was held at Forestry House at Yarralumla. There were six brigades in those days. They represented Majura, Fairlight, Hall, Williamsdale, Tidbinbilla, Tharwa and Naas. Over the years, two of those brigades disbanded and the Tharwa and Naas brigades merged to become the southern districts volunteer brigade. In 1986 the Jerrabomberra brigade officially formed, and in 1988 the old Williamsdale brigade split in two to become the Williamsdale bushfire brigade and the Guises Creek volunteer bushfire brigade.