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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2816 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The bill also provides resources to progress the program of organisational and legislative review and change as recommended by McLeod. Members would recognise that the government's response and the associated measures included in the supplementary Appropriation Bill have been developed over a short timeframe. The government considered this necessary in order to ensure that we, as a community, are as ready as possible before the next bushfire season.

Obviously, some further measures and initiatives may be developed over time. In response to the recommendations of the McLeod report, this bill includes appropriations of $8.4 million for 2003-04 for McLeod-related initiatives. Examples of this are $1.3 million for the purchase of four all-terrain water tankers to improve operational responses to the urban-rural interface; $1.1 million to provide all ACT Bushfire Service tankers with compressed air foam systems, increasing the capacity of a bushfire tanker fivefold; $0.5 million to broaden the bushfire fighting skills training provided to firefighters; $0.168 million to provide increased bushfire control capability to support bushfire, emergency service and volunteer management; and $0.235 million to increase the capability of the Emergency Services Bureau to analyse risks and effectively plan and support operational decision making through the use of geographical information.

This bill includes an allocation of $1.7 million to reduce fuel loads in fire risk areas. This is one of the many measures taken by the government to address potential bushfire risk. In addition, $1.4 million has been allocated to provide for additional fire protection crews for the summer period, including plant and equipment to improve the territory's firefighting capability, particularly for rapid deployment to remote area fires. Furthermore, the government will embark on a public awareness campaign to educate the community on how to respond in the case of bushfire emergencies. This initiative will require funding of $0.5 million. An amount of $0.5 million has been allocated to provide additional resources within Justice and Community Safety to implement the McLeod report recommendations.

In addition to addressing the recommendations of the McLeod report, this Appropriation Bill provides $7.9 million for a number of additional bushfire-related initiatives: $0.9 million to the Department of Justice and Community Services to fund the recent commitment to the aerial firefighting strategy. This will allow the ACT to access additional firefighting aircraft, and it represents the ACT's commitment to a national aerial firefighting capability. An amount of $0.4 million has been allocated for the continued bushfire recovery effort into early 2004, including the weekly community update newsletter and regular substantial newspaper advertising. An amount of $1.250 million has also been allocated to address tree clearage and landslip rectification on rural roads over and above funding already provided in 2002-03 and the budget.

The Stanhope government remains committed to providing ongoing support to those citizens affected by the January 2003 bushfires. This statement is supported by the provision of $1.2 million to the Chief Minister's Department for the bushfire rebuilding grant, which was announced by the Chief Minister in July. The staff members of the ACT government represent its greatest asset. The government recognises their value and has included funding of $6.5 million with this

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