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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 318 ..

MR CORNWELL: Treasurer, does this government distinction between people with and without insurance also extend to block clearance-I have been told that costs about $14,000 or $15,000? If this is the case, why does it, and how does it apply?

MR QUINLAN: Again, the same principle applies. What the government is interested in doing, underlying this, is to try to get the job of reinstatement done as soon as is reasonably possible. We believe that the psychological or emotional scars from this tragedy will begin to heal once we get past the physical damage.

We have 300 or more houses in the Duffy-Chapman area, all in the same place, with many people wanting to get on with the job. For practical reasons, to make sure that we do not have 15, 20 or 30 different demolition firms, and large trucks and such things rumbling around that area for months and months on end, we decided that we would try to set up a process and engage project managers that people, whether they have cover or not, would be attracted to use. This is to ensure that rebuilding is done as quickly as possible and with the minimum impact on the survivors, because most people in Chapman and Duffy have houses that survived the fire, of course.

In monetary terms, I think we are charging $5,000 for those who have cover for block clearance, and it is free for those who do not. Again, if you look at your insurance policy or ask your insurer how much you are covered for if your house is raised to the ground, you might find that you are facing an underinsurance problem as well. In the attempt to come out of this situation with everybody in as equitable a position as is possible, we have offered assistance to everybody. However, for those who have cover and therefore have funds to apply to the situation, there is a charge of $5,000. For those who do now have cover for demolition and block clearance, that will be done for free.

That will do two things. First, it will in fact give a structure to the process of clearing up and minimise the environmental damage, the noise pollution and the dust pollution, and all those problems that would go with a willy-nilly process. Second, it will also create the most equitable result at the end of the day, we hope. It will not be perfect.

Revenue waivers

MRS DUNNE: Treasurer, in the December quarterly report that you tabled on Tuesday it is estimated that there will be a waiver of taxes, fees and fines totalling more than $25 million this financial year, an increase of more than $20 million on the estimate for waivers included in the government's budget. You were estimating them at $5 million in the budget and you are now estimating them at $25 million. Why has there been such a large increase in predicted waivers?

MR QUINLAN: There are a number of waivers. There will be a number of waivers as far as bushfires are concerned as well. I will take the question on notice so that I can give the precise figures.

MRS DUNNE: I have a supplementary question. Treasurer, in taking it on notice, will you take into account what measures might be taken to reduce the recourse to waivers in the future? Is something abnormal happening, because a $20 million increase in waivers is predicted? Is there something wrong procedurally or administratively that you need to address to staunch that flow?

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