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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 84 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The establishment of the bushfire task force and the associated community and expert reference group is a significant part of the strategy put in place by the government to facilitate a fast and dedicated response to the myriad issues the government, the community and all those people so directly and badly affected face. The task force is headed by Sandy Hollway, a person whose experience and capacity cannot be gainsaid. It comprises a group of enormous reputation and capacity in Terry Snow, Maureen Cane and Robert De Castella, along with the head of the Chief Minister's Department. It has a full-time secretariat of the most senior and experienced public servants that we in the ACT could make available to the task force.

The expert reference group comprises the most senior and significant representatives of a range of stakeholder groups that are very relevant to the recovery task which faces us. They are a conduit into the community and represent and reflect the government's determination to consult as widely, as broadly and as deeply as possible on all the issues facing the community in relation to the recovery.

It is the view of the government that it is vital that we get our processes in place in order that the recovery be dedicated, speedy and not put obstacles in the way of all those people seeking to restore their lives to some semblance of normalcy. In that context, we are yet to address a range of other issues. Time has pressed heavily in the context of the very many issues that we have been required to face. We are working through the full range of issues that we know face the community and face the government, and we will be orderly in our response to those.

The Treasurer has announced that that he will be introducing a supplementary appropriation bill, probably this week, in relation to some of the short-term but significant costs that have been part and parcel of our response to the fire and to the recovery.

There are other announcements that the government will be making. Each of my colleagues has made announcements. The minister for forests has made announcements in relation to his determination to pursue issues around the sustainability of a forest industry for the ACT. My colleague the Minister for Planning has made a number of arrangements around the planning approvals processes that will be put in place, our determination to cut red tape and our determination to pursue issues around the urban/rural interface and bushfire issues that affect the urban interface and each of our residences. They are issues the Minister for Planning is pursuing in addition to the work that is already well advanced in relation to the development of a sustainable urban plan for the future of the ACT, work very much brought into focus by the fire. The government will be announcing its response to issues in relation to the non-urban forest area destroyed by the fire, essentially the 12,000 hectares of pine forest that were destroyed. We will be announcing significant responses to issues around the future sustainable use of that land.

In brief and in summary, they are some of the recovery steps that the government has put in place. I am very pleased with the progress that has been made. It is a month today since the fire. The recovery is well under way. There is a long way to go. It is a long row to hoe. The government is determined and committed that the recovery will be fast and complete, and we will not take our eye off the ball at any step of the way. We are totally and fully committed as a government to the recovery from the bushfires.

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