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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2785 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Obviously, further consideration on the part of the government is required to develop the details of implementing some of the recommendations, the key one being the establishment of the new emergency services authority. The government recognises that there are key stakeholders that will have legitimate and valuable views about the details and directions needed to establish such an entity. As stated earlier, close consultation with these stakeholders will occur to ensure these views are effectively considered. There is much at stake in ensuring that all affected parties are involved in the processes that move us towards the future of emergency service management in the ACT.

Finally, again, I wish to thank Mr McLeod and his team for the tremendous effort involved in putting this report together. I would also like to thank the many people who, in an official, volunteer or private capacity, contributed to fighting the fires and dealing with the aftermath. There are many members of the community who have given their time freely, both prior to and during the January bushfires, as well as contributing to the recovery process since the fires. I thank all those people.

I would also like to thank all those people in the ACT public service who have worked hard and professionally to ensure that those services that it has been vital to provide to the people of the ACT in the wake of such a large emergency have been provided in the most sensitive and efficient way.

The recovery process continues to be a massive task, and I am proud of the way the community and the government are working together to move forward.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (3.43): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak to the government's response to the report on the operational response to the January 2003 bushfires with a concern that there does not appear to be any commitment to have debate on that which is included in the McLeod report. I think that if you look at any counselling or any critical stress incident, the advice is that part of the healing process is to actually talk through these issues and to include people. Although, on the one hand, there is a requirement for haste, so that we are prepared for the coming season, there is also a very critical requirement to get it right.

A cursory glance of what the government has said in its response today would indicate to me that it has not considered the need to include the community in this response. You only have to go to recommendation 58, which says,

The Bushfire Act 1936 should be reviewed and redesigned to reflect contemporary needs, and the ACT Bush Fire Council's role should be re-expressed in the Act to more accurately describe its current activity.

There is great community concern over that recommendation alone, particularly among volunteer bushfire fighters and particularly those senior-in age-members of the various brigades who have seen the role of the Bush Fire Council change over the years and do not believe that the act should reflect the council's current activity.

With that alone, we see that the government has agreed and that the government accepts the recommendation and will review the act. I do not believe the government should be agreeing to that. I note that it is agreeing to the review, although it does

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