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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1667 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

There should be sufficient knowledge on the opposition side of the Assembly about the arrangements of getting the Commonwealth government to agree to any financial arrangement to know that this motion is ill-conceived. The ACT has at all times-during the time of the former government, I might say, too-insisted on a fair deal, and we will continue to do so.

Let me conclude with a message to Mr Pratt, who will probably continue with his motion, and certainly to the crossbenchers: if this motion is passed then you will have weakened our bargaining position. Think about that. If we pass this motion, your colleagues, those for whom you are running this argument, will say, "Well, that's what the Assembly says. We can continue to get them to sign up the way we want them to."So it would be very unfortunate in that event.

I will take any message to accelerate this process. We have been doing the very best we can, in difficult circumstances. We raised the matter with the Prime Minister-that is heavy intervention-and, happily, he has said, "It's on the agenda. Let's keep it moving."But this Assembly, of which Mr Pratt MLA, is a member, needs to support the ACT in our bargaining with the Commonwealth. Please, let us oppose this motion, because it is not going to help the ACT one bit if it gets up.

MS TUCKER (4.37): The Greens will not be supporting this motion. I have watched this matter with interest for some time. Certainly, the previous government also battled with the feds on this. I agree with Mr Wood that it is rather unfortunate that Mr Pratt has taken the line that he has.

Basically there are two points that are important in this debate. The federal government is not prepared to take into account responsibilities that we have to carry in the ACT, and that has been an issue for quite some time. It is not going to get easier. It is going to get worse because we are obviously potentially vulnerable to the extra security risks that are present at the moment. According to Mr Wood, maybe that will make a difference in the negotiations. Mr Howard is very keen to show a duty of care. He is taking a duty of care in terms of the perceived extra risk of the ACT potentially being subject of terrorist attack or whatever.

Mr Pratt referred to the wake-up call of the 2001 fires. It was a wake-up call in lots of ways but unfortunately the Liberals would not accept it as that. At that time I put forward a motion calling on the government to re-assess, for example, the wisdom of replanting pines close to suburbs, but in their wisdom the government at the time said no, that was not a problem.

I raised during the term of the last government the question of support for firefighters. They asked for a better radio system. This government is apparently finally acknowledging this need with the development of the CAD system. However, this has not been the call from the firefighters on the ground, who feel their lives are at risk because the radio system has not been improved. My distinct memory is that I raised this matter during the term of the previous government as well. These issues have been going on for quite a few years. However, for a start, we still have not got real agreement on radios. Apparently, this is not going to happen for another year and in my view and the view of the men and women who fight fires, that is not good enough.

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