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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 608 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

In health, planning and transport a significant level of activity has occurred as a result of the fires. It is difficult to fully explain the extent of that to people outside the government process, but I can assure members that the response to the 18 January event is wide ranging and consumes an enormous amount of activity, time and energy right across the ACT government service.

That is as one would expect, given the magnitude of the event, with over 500 homes destroyed and with the social and environmental impacts as well as impacts on other physical infrastructure. It is a significant event that is bringing out the best in the ACT service but is also putting additional demands on it. That means additional resources are needed.

Part of the reason I want to contribute to this debate is the assertion from Mr Smyth that people cannot have confidence in the response and in the recovery process. I want to refute that strongly because all the evidence is to the contrary.

Tomorrow we will see the first concrete board for the first rebuild of a house. Seven weeks after the events of 18 January, the first house is on its way to being rebuilt tomorrow. That is a strong indicator of the co-ordination and the streamlining of processes that the government has put in place to enable the physical recovery to occur in a timely way. It points to the capacity of the ACT government service and the leadership the government has given in bringing together the structures needed to deliver those outcomes.

Let me highlight the planning side of things, where a series of exercises have had to come into effect. But first I would like to highlight the extent of the task because it is significant. The most recent advice is that there are a total of 513 totally destroyed or uninhabitable properties in both the urban and the rural areas. An additional 133 properties have been assessed as having damage to the main dwelling or to outbuildings, including garages and sheds.

Those are the most recent figures. This information has been difficult to get accurate, particularly in rural areas. The addressing of rural areas has been recorded differently on each occasion of inspection, and we are going to have to address that issue in and of itself.

Building, electrical and plumbing control inspectors have been centrally involved in assessing the level of damage, and the complete assessment now indicates 513 dwellings totally destroyed or uninhabitable and a further 133 assessed as having damage to the main dwelling or to outbuildings.

That is a very significant level of damage, and I know members fully appreciate that. But the response has been a significant one as well, and the streamlining of processes has been very wide ranging. The reason I highlight this is that I want to put a lie to the assertion from the opposition that we need to create a whole new bureaucratic structure to address the issue of bushfire recovery, which is the intent of the bill Mrs Dunne tabled yesterday.

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