Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (13 November) . . Page.. 3575 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
must always be aware of and vigilant against bushfires, particularly with the excessively dry conditions we are all facing.
Mr Pratt's motion is unwarranted, it is uninformed and it is unnecessary. The government has the issue in hand and there is a range of programs already in place actively educating our children and young people about the dangers of fires. The government will not be supporting the motion in its current form.
MR SMYTH (7.39): Mr Speaker, I wish to add a few words to what Mr Pratt said, although Mr Corbell would like to contradict it. Mr Pratt said that training is being undertaken as we speak through a number of sources, whether it be through the ESB, the volunteers or the schools, and he acknowledged at the start of his speech the programs that currently exist, but he said that we need to do more. He simply wants us to do more. He has come to this conclusion because people out in the field are telling him that they would like to see more being done.
I want to relate an incident that my brigade responded to three times in a row in early February at Oxley Hill. At 3.20 pm we all went out to look for smoke because 3.20 pm is when the kids get out of school and, in their first couple of weeks back, they are just settling down to the routine, all excited and still full of energy. We had one young individual who, at 3.20 pm, took it upon himself to relieve some tension, we assume, by lighting fires on Oxley Hill and we went back a couple of days in a row.
Yes, education is being undertaken in the system as we speak, but what Mr Pratt has been told, what I have been told and what members of my brigade have decided-we have put our time where our mouths are, in effect, by making sure that we go out as volunteers, and we are happy to do so-is that there is a need to do a little bit more. Even though you volunteer to put fires out, once you have done your training and spent time at a few fires, you would much rather spend your time talking to people about not having to put fires out.
We do it in a number of ways. My brigade accepts most invitations to attend school fetes, where we squirt water and hand out the promotional information provided by ESB. The kids get to hear sirens, see lights and climb all over the engines, but what we are trying to do is to instil in those young ones the need not to be going to fires.
We actually implemented a program whereby the concept of underage volunteers was raised with us. Some younger people who were not of legal age wanted to join the brigade, so we set up a cadet system at Calwell High School and, I think, Calwell Primary School and we went there and taught young people about firefighting and fire prevention. In raising their awareness of that, we hoped to decrease the number of fires that were lit.
I think it is disingenuous for Mr Corbell to stand up in here, not having listened properly to what Mr Pratt said, and say that we have got some programs in place. Mr Pratt acknowledged that we do have some programs in place, but he wants to have some more. Mr Corbell is right in saying that ultimately it is up to the community to do something.