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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 332 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I know a lot of the members of the Guises Creek bushfire brigade. They are a fine bunch of people. As a bit of a sideline, that brigade also operates a "stop, revive and don't kill yourself" stop on the Monaro Highway during the snow season. So their actual work is not only when the hot stuff turns up but the cold stuff as well.

The history of bushfires in the ACT is interesting. There are not a lot of records about bushfires in the first quarter of the 20th century, but in 1903 the Limestone Plains bushfire brigade was formed. The last day of 1904, a year of training later-as a veteran firey, Mr Speaker, you will appreciate all of these things-was the hottest on record. On 1 January 1905 a bushfire swept through the Wallaroo and Ginninderra areas. I saw Mr Stefaniak's eyes click forward and his ears prick up when he heard "Ginninderra", but the electorate had not been formed by then.

After these fires, a public meeting was called to discuss bushfire prevention and suppression, and an executive committee was formed to decide the location of fire breaks and to call meetings as they were needed. That was a precursor to the Bushfire Council.

In 1927, a bushfire control organisation had its inaugural meeting. The chief fire controller then was Mr M R Jacobs, who was the chief forester at the time. When I moved to Tuggeranong, there was not a lot of forest out there. There was not a lot of bush there either. There was a lot of city.

The organisation then set up fire depots at MacDonald's Camp near Weetangera, Weavers' property near Stromlo, Maxwells' property at the Rivers-one wonders which Maxwell that was-Gregorys' property at Kambah and Horans' property near Yarralumla. The equipment at those depots included fire carts, beaters, rakes and axes, with horses for the fire carts being supplied by various rural lessees. Haven't we moved on since then?

The severe bushfires which caused widespread damage in the Australian Capital Territory in 1939 were subject to an inquiry by a bushfire committee which was appointed by the then Minister of State for the Interior, the Hon J McEwen MP, affectionately known as Black Jack McEwen. At least he did something right for the ACT. Among the recommendations was one favouring the appointment of a permanent bushfire council to organise the prevention and suppression of bushfires in the ACT. Its inaugural meeting was held on 18 August.

During the 1943-44 bushfire season, fire protection associations were formed under the aegis of the Bushfire Council, the first being the Mulligans Flat bushfire brigade and second the Weetangera bushfire brigade. Hall and Tuggeranong bushfire brigades were formed during the 1994-45 bushfire season, and Tidbinbilla bushfire brigade was formed at a meeting held on 25 February 1951.

I will not go on, but history is littered with bushfires. Almost every couple of years we have a bushfire of some size. An examination of history reveals the emergence of various brigades. The big thing for me is that we have-and I believe this very sincerely-the best urban fire service in the country and the best volunteer service as well. These people give of their time. They are particularly highly trained. They are sought after for interstate service. Our bushfire fighters, and urban firefighters too-I will stand corrected on this-went to Sydney in the bushfire before last, and they stood ready to go this time.

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