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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (13 November) . . Page.. 3520 ..

WorkCover-explosives depot

MRS CROSS: My question is to Mr Corbell in his capacity as Minister for Planning and Minister for Industrial Relations. Minister, as you are aware, the ACT is heading towards the worst bushfire season in recent history-perhaps more severe than last Christmas. Have you been given advice concerning the bushfire safety aspects of WorkCover's Mugga Way explosives depot? Are you aware of community and industry concern that WorkCover is not compliant with its own regulations or appropriate bushfire prevention measures?

Minister, are you prepared to give the people of the surrounding suburbs of Narrabundah, Red Hill, O'Malley, Woden and Isaacs your personal assurance that their properties and families will be safe this Christmas?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mrs Cross for her question. The depot at Mugga Lane is a secure facility, which meets the necessary standards for the storage of the types of fireworks that are stored there. WorkCover recently had an audit undertaken, which identified that the facility is safe.

It is regrettable that the location of the facility has been made public by those in the fireworks industry, since it only attracts people, potentially, who are seeking to break into the facility or cause some other damage to it. It is far more preferable for the location of the facility to be kept confidential, so that the chances of burglary, theft, vandalism or attempts to damage the goods there can be reduced as much as possible. I am confident of the safety of the facility.

The fireworks industry previously made claims that we could have another Enschede, a town in Holland where a fireworks factory exploded, killing many people. It is important that this is not a manufacturing facility; nor does it contain the type of firework involved in the explosion at Enschede. It is quite inaccurate for those claims to be made and, yes, I can vouch for the safety of the facility and the fact that there is no serious risk to residents.

WorkCover have also put in place necessary measures, should there be an incident, for the evacuation of those surrounding suburbs, as part of planning for any bushfire or other event that occurs in any suburb in Canberra. The fireworks facility is safe and does not pose a risk to residents.

MRS CROSS: I have a supplementary question. Thank you for that, Minister. If it turns out that the advice you have been given by WorkCover is inaccurate, are you prepared to instigate an inquiry into the accuracy of WorkCover's advice to you? If an audit has been conducted, can you table the audit and advise the Assembly who conducted the audit?

MR CORBELL: Well, the first part of the question is hypothetical, and I am not going to try to answer a hypothetical question. In relation to the audit, I will take some advice from WorkCover. There may be some confidential matters, which it might not be appropriate to disclose, and I will come back to the Assembly and to Mrs Cross with further advice on that.

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