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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2886 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

community organisations' restrictive use of fireworks only at the Queen's Birthday long weekend, between 5 pm and 10 pm on prescribed nights, or at perhaps other approved events. It introduces stricter penalties for the illegal sale and use of fireworks and it will ensure that the penalties are enforced.

Mr Speaker, I regret that the proposed action will adversely impact on those lawful and responsible fireworks retailers and perhaps, accordingly, there will be some adverse feedback from what some in the business community may portray as an attack. But I believe that the greater good and the safety of the community is a far more important objective to achieve, and that is essentially what this legislation is directed at.

Debate (on motion by Ms Gallagher ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Fire, Emergency Services and Ambulance Authorities Bill 2003

Mr Pratt, pursuant to notice, as amended, by leave, presented the bill.

Title read by acting clerk.

MR PRATT (10.47): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the reason for introducing this new legislation is primarily found in the lessons being learnt about the failure of the Emergency Services Bureau and the general hampering of all emergency agencies, including the ACT police, experienced over the last two years, culminating in the disastrous experience of January 2003.

The "lessons learnt"experience is partly based on the McLeod inquiry, the May 2003 ACT operational audit into the Emergency Services Bureau, the lessons arising in various reports coming out of the December 2001 fires and from consultation with experienced firefighters-urban and bushfire-police, other emergency services personnel, ACT residents, rural residents, emergency management professionals and others.

I would stress that while the useful McLeod inquiry has contributed to the opposition's views, it is also felt that McLeod did fall well short of making the conclusions relevant to the Emergency Services Bureau and related departmental issues which, in the body of the report, it did in fact allude to.

Mr Speaker, the previous Liberal government established the Emergency Services Bureau in good faith. The driving need, as seen then, to improve interoperability led to the decision to establish the Emergency Services Bureau. Then, the Emergency Services Bureau was placed under the departmental control of JACS. Perhaps this was unfair for the commanders in ESB, their line commanders and perhaps even the senior bureaucrats in JACS.

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