Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2806 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
course, about the detail of how wide you go. As I have said before in this place, there is certainly not scientific agreement on that, and that is a discussion that has to be had. It is a good discussion and it is about balancing tensions between the environmental integrity of areas, the effectiveness of widespread burning and the cost of doing it. I note that the Dwellingup royal commission in Western Australia in, I think, 1961 was told that although there had been widespread pre-emptive burning for about 40 years, the fire still ripped through the town and caused incredible damage. So by no means can it be claimed that this is the only aspect we should focus on. We have to focus on all aspects, and I think members have said that.
I have not heard what all the Liberals said, but I notice that Mrs Dunne was doing a mea culpa about what the Liberals had not done, and I am glad to hear that. I think it is important that, instead of looking to accuse each other, we look at how we can progress the policy and the practice of protecting Canberra from another fire event like this. (Extension of time granted.)
One other important point that I would like to raise is the question of fire trails. Of course, that is something that can be looked at but it is very critical that we have a consciousness in that discussion about water catchment. I know that already there are real issues there, and if there is one thing the Canberra community is sensitive to it is the need to have a good water supply. Obviously, this has been brought to our notice in a rather dramatic way. Water catchment is absolutely critical and we cannot have a situation where fire tracks are just ripped through water catchment areas, because we do need to understand the implications of that for water catchments.
MR CORNWELL (5.04): I rise to make a few comments in relation to the McLeod report but I think I should begin by commenting on Ms Tucker's remarks. First of all, I suggest to you that if we do not have this debate today we will not have a chance to debate it again. These things have a habit of being placed on the notice paper and disappearing into the ether.
I might also say that we had the usual apologia from Ms Tucker. She was very erudite. Indeed, she quoted scientific evidence et cetera to suggest-
Mr Quinlan: We don't want any of that stuff.
MR CORNWELL: No, indeed. Of course, Mr Quinlan, the evidence that was quoted here by Ms Tucker is unproven in this place, but it fits into the usual Liberal-bashing homily that she is used to delivering. Irrespective of what she may say in defence of the Greens-she alleges that they are always concerned about hazard reduction, et cetera-the simple fact is that the majority of people out there have suspicions; and I don't say they are correct. May I say that the majority of people out there faced with burning off or burning will accept the former any day of the week, irrespective of what you may think of the environment.
I have no real problem with the McLeod report. In fact, I think it is very well written. I have no problems even with the government's response, although I must admit I have had to read it fairly quickly. But I am a little disappointed that numbers of things were not addressed. Earlier today in question time I raised the question of air