Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 620 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
hundreds, if not thousands, of trees that we can choose to leave there dead for years to come. Either these will become a hazard in the future or we will embark on a thorough and proper clean-up of all our roads, parks and amenities. There will be significant costs attached to that.
If we choose to replace those dead trees, which is my determination, there will be significant costs involved. We cannot plant in this financial year-we could not prepare the ground. We will have to plant in the next financial year and the financial year after that. I am suggesting we will be incurring costs relevant to this fire for years to come. They are costs that are not incorporated in this appropriation bill or in Mr Quinlan's estimates for the future likely cost to this community of this fire. We will be bearing costs for years to come.
If one is to visit the Cotter or Uriarra Crossing, there is a real concern within Environment ACT that the casuarinas that are a feature of the Murrumbidgee may not come back to life. It may be that every casuarina between the water treatment plant and Kambah Pool is dead. That is an enormous loss that we do not yet know about and cannot factor in.
We cannot just leave those trees there. The Cotter, Uriarra Settlement and Kambah Pool are major recreational resources for this community. What if we have to clean out the entire growth of casuarinas from Casuarina Sands? There are hundreds of casuarinas at Casuarina Sands, a major picnic and recreation spot for the people of the ACT. It may be that not a single one of those trees has survived, so there is enormous potential cost downstream.
I will conclude on that remark. I thank members for their contributions. I hope the Liberal Party will stop its determination to vilify people such as Mr McLeod with outrageous claims of whitewashing, and that they will not seek to undermine the integrity of the work the government is doing, which has been widely applauded by the community.
MS GALLAGHER (Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Minister for Women and Minister for Industrial Relations) (12.02): I rise to talk about the appropriation bill in relation to the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services. I repeat the comments made by the Chief Minister and Mr Corbell, about the immediate and swift response by government agencies in taking on the additional work required to be performed by the public service to meet the issues facing us post-18 January. Certainly those from my department, which staffed the evacuation centres, were at the Winchester Centre, assisting the call line, from 18 January onwards. The additional workload was significant to the running of the department. The role the public service played in meeting the needs of the community should be recognised and commended.
In relation to the appropriation bill, the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services is seeking $2.68 million as a government payment for output. This amount is made up of financial assistance grants, emergency assistance, emergency short-term accommodation, evacuation and recovery centres, and repairs and maintenance.
The department will also receive $1 million from the Treasurer's advance towards funding the financial relief grants. As members would know, the relief grants program