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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4239 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

mentioned previously working directly on a number of areas of research, including bushfire arson, decision support tools for firefighters, improved handling of vegetation data in fire modelling, et cetera.

Mr Speaker, I can advise that it was my pleasure this morning to participate with my federal Labor colleagues in the launch of their national bushfire strategy. This strategy, which Labor has earmarked as a priority, includes: a national commitment; a call for dedicated research, which is now being heeded by the federal government; the provision of a pool of national resources, particularly equipment resources and aircraft that might be used to the optimum to protect all of the states and territories; better operational coordination; and support for volunteer firefighters, particularly in protecting their employment position when they may be involved in firefighting at times that may not be necessarily considered convenient to employers.

This measure has been brought forward by federal Labor to ensure that we let volunteer bushfire fighters know they are appreciated before the event. We have seen ticker tape parades and we have seen the awarding of swatches and medals after the event in the euphoria that follows a particularly bad bushfire season. But we have not seen many initiatives taken ex ante, before the event. Federal Labor is moving to ensure that firefighters know they have the community's full support before the event, and not just for a week or so after a major fire.

New Year's Eve fireworks

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Wood. Minister, last year the ACT was the laughing stock of the nation when the New Year's Eve fireworks display was cancelled because your department had forgotten to order the fireworks. Can the minister advise the Assembly whether he has remembered to order the fireworks this year?

MR WOOD: Actually I would have thought you would not want to run this furphy, which is a whole lot of nonsense. I would have thought you would know that, Mr Stefaniak. The new ACT government did not forget about fireworks at that time.

Mr Humphries: That is what you said on the radio. It was overlooked, you said.

MR WOOD: No, no. An interviewer might have said we forgot. But the government did not forget. In fact, I will be generous to you and say that I think what you did was a fair thing. If anybody forgot, it was the former government. But you did not forget. The former government, Mr Stefaniak, did not forget to program fireworks for New Year's Day. The former government, as best as I can understand, did not program fireworks for New Year's Eve. You didn't do it.

Obviously, the former Minister for Urban Services made a decision, either alone or in a cabinet process, that there would not be fireworks on New Year's Eve. Mr Smyth, I have to say I think that was a good decision that you took. Indeed, if there were going to be fireworks on New Year's Eve last year the decision would have needed to be made well before the new government came into being.

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