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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (30 January) . . Page.. 14 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

A disturbing aspect of this entire ordeal has been the discovery and knowledge that some people in our community deliberately light fires. Even more alarming is data from reputable research centres. The ACT Criminal Justice Profile, published from March 2001 to September 2002, reveals 720 reported cases of arson during that period, yet only 27 offences were dealt with by arrest or summons. The other perpetrators remain free and unpunished. The monetary and emotional cost to the territory has been an unnecessary burden.

As alarming is comment by the Australian Institute of Criminology, in issue No 236 of its publication:

Over 30 years the Australian population has grown by 50 per cent, while recorded arsons have increased by almost 2,000 per cent. If the current arson rate continues to grow as it has, the number of cases reported to police nationwide will approximately double every 10 years.

The mind boggles as to what the unreported rates must be. Clearly there is something drastically distorted in our community when so many people are so destructive, and it appears that there is no sign of this abating.

Mr Speaker, I offer my condolences to those who suffered loss and my thanks to all who helped protect Canberra and are helping us to rebuild. I would implore the government, in its post mortem analysis, to give due consideration to funding research and prevention programs to stem the alarming rate of arson.

I particularly thank Peter Lucas-Smith, Ian Bennett, Mike Castle, John Murray, as well as the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope, the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Quinlan, and the many hundreds of professionals and volunteers who have ensured the security of the nation's capital. Thanks must also go to the media-in particular the Canberra Times, 2CN and 2CC-for their excellent coverage. Collectively and individually, you are all an inspiration.

Tales that grow out of 18 January 2003 will tell of kindness, of humanity, of the spirit of a city, of people casting aside their own safety and uniting to fight the enemy. And it is that which should never be forgotten. The selflessness and courage that were displayed in that time of trial will provide a model for us for all time.

MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.10): There are many stories to tell about the bushfires-stories that we need to listen to and learn from. There are stories about our own experiences on the day, our fears and our own stress, there are stories of the fire and the damage it caused and there are stories of incredible bravery and survival. There are also stories about how the community, its services and its people responded to the disaster and immediately rallied to help.

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