Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2906 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

We also know that the education program that was occurring was essentially aimed at structure fire risk education much more so than universal bushfire prevention education. People here are accusing other people of taking things and twisting them, when they are not themselves referring to the full contexts of their own speeches.

Mr Quinlan makes a lot of the timing. Yes, on 13 November we did call for urgent bushfire education in schools.

Mr Wood: Immediate.

MR PRATT: Immediate. Absolutely right. You are correct, Mr Wood.

Mr Wood: Just before the holidays, you said immediate.

MR PRATT: It is absolutely unacceptable that Mr Quinlan should now say that, on 13 November, there was no time to take any action whatsoever. What a load of rot. A lot of children were remaining in school up until 19 December. (Extension of time granted.)

MR SPEAKER: Mr Pratt, before you proceed, I want to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of students from Marist College. Mr Pratt, you have the floor.

MR PRATT: If the government had taken seriously the warnings of the deteriorating fire conditions in 2002, and if it had taken the alerts and the warnings seriously in the wake of the December 2001 wake-up call, it could have acted in time to alert schools to at least educate their children before the Christmas break-up period. They could have done that; there was sufficient time. For Mr Quinlan to ridicule the idea that action could have been taken is disingenuous and irresponsible.

What else has to happen? Look at the other recommendations that were not adopted. Communications and other equipment deficiencies were identified after December 2001. Calls for the urgent rectification of those deficiencies were either ignored or, if taken on board, were then treated as ongoing routine administrative programs to either acquire or repair existing systems.

In that same speech of 13 November, we called for the community to back up our emergency services units. That means that, primarily, government needed to adopt a leadership role in backing up our emergency services units on the ground. We knew, and I referred to this in my speech, that our emergency services units had been pushed to the limit in December 2001. We knew that, in December 2001, a disaster was only narrowly avoided. Others in the community had called for the government and the ESB management to back up the emergency units, because the emergency units had pushed themselves to their absolute fullest capacities.

What happened? There were three areas in which we needed to see government and management do something to improve the capacity of our units. First, we needed a better school and general community program and better information systems. The recommendations arising from December 2001 included that the government undertake a broader community education program. On 13 November, we called for an urgent bushfire prevention education program in schools.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .