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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (30 January) . . Page.. 25 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

It is difficult to convey a sense of those hours; they seemed to pass in minutes-black clouds of smoke blocking all the light, except for the hellish red glow of flames to the north, the amazing sight of a huge sky crane flying low over our house and the sound of wind and fire, a sound like giants' fingernails running down a huge blackboard and seeming to last for hours.

I don't remember feeling afraid, except when I saw the huge trees and a house two doors down aflame in the crown. But I felt most afraid when I had to leave the house, feeling part of me let go of a house that I did not expect to see again-even though, in hindsight, the worst was then over.

Mr Deputy Speaker, my story is not unusual. In fact, it is tame compared to the stories of many other families and people in Canberra. But if my story is not unusual, neither is the spirit that our community has shown. It is what we have always known about Canberra, but it is something that people outside of Canberra all too often forget.

Our city's challenge now is to ensure that all assistance, advice and support is given to those on whom the events of Saturday two weeks ago have had an impact, either physical or emotional.

In my own portfolios, planning and health, the response has been extraordinary. The response of Planning and Land Management to the bushfires of 18 January was not only immediate but has been ongoing. As we know, over 500 homes have been destroyed and many others damaged. On the day after the fire hit the suburbs, the property assessment and recovery team was established by Planning and Land Management.

This team includes representatives of the police and the initial fire response teams; specialists from PALM, including building electrical and plumbing control and people involved in demolition, redevelopment and other planning issues; Actew and ActewAGL; Environment ACT; representatives of the building and construction industry, in particular, the Master Builders Association, the Housing Industry Association and the Property Council; and the Insurance Council of Australia. The New South Wales and Commonwealth governments have also provided support and assistance.

The priorities of the team were to respond to the situation as it developed each day, but overall its objectives are:

    the assessment of fire damaged sites, with respect to safety, structural integrity and the conditions of services and infrastructure;

    the development of a database on property status;

    communication and advice to the community on responding to the loss of property; and

    facilitating the process of demolition, clearance and reconstruction.

The team has worked solidly since the fire and I commend it for their dedication and professionalism.

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