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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 616 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Mr Corbell, in his comments, raised a couple of issues on which I wish to comment. He talked about the proclamation of bushfire-prone areas not necessarily being helpful, and said that the assessment he had been given so far was that they would not be. He quoted CSIRO scientist, Mr Chaney. I am aware that the Bushfire Council and the task group which looked at these issues made that recommendation. I am certainly open to hearing from Mr Corbell that that work has now been overtaken by other considerations of the questions-but I would like to see the work. If Mr Corbell is saying that those recommendations are not good any more, and that he has information to show why that is the case, then I am interested to see that work. I understood that those recommendations were informed by experts in the field.

That is all I wanted to make comment on at this point in time. We support the bill. We will see what happens with revenue that comes from insurance.

I will make one further comment. There appear to be mixed messages going to the community about what the impact of the fires will be on the finances of the territory. Mr Corbell can refute this if he so wishes. I was at a meeting on the weekend with the Save the Ridge group, which had raised the question of the financial impact of the fires with regard to building the road.

Apparently, Mr Corbell said at the time that this would be revenue neutral, but that is not what we are hearing now. This appropriation was allocated because insurance would not be covering everything. We know that-according to the government. So it will not be revenue neutral. We need to get clarity on what is being said to the community about the financial impact of these fires.

MR STANHOPE: (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (11.47): I thank members of the Assembly for their support of this bill, their recognition of the steps the government has taken, and the appropriateness of those steps in responding to the major crisis which beset the community-a crisis which behoves us all to work collaboratively and not to forget that 500 Canberra families lost their homes, and essentially everything they owned, and that four Canberra families lost a loved one. The government has sought, from the outset, to respond to the pressing need-and it is a pressing need that continues.

That is the context in which we need to undertake this debate-that there are 500 families still grieving enormously around their losses; there are 500 families that require the continuing absolute and full support of this government and this community. We are providing that support. I sometimes think that, in the context of some of the debate we have had in this place over the past few days, people are already forgetting the fact that there are 500 families who are depending very much on this community taking these issues around their circumstances and around the recovery of the ACT forward, to ensure a full and absolute recovery. That is uppermost in our minds, and it is what drives all of our decisions in relation to this.

Turning to the expenditures in this additional appropriation bill and portfolios for which I am responsible, the major one is around the establishment and operations of a bushfire recovery taskforce. I note, from legislation introduced yesterday by the Liberal Party, that the Liberal Party would wish to see that taskforce dismissed, or sacked, and replaced

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