Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3573 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
On that point, Senator Brown saw fit to have his solicitor send me a letter asking me to stop picking on him. I thought that was an unusual tactic for a senator. It seems that it boils down to this: when Senator Brown says he is against hazard reduction burning, it means he is against it when Wilson Tuckey proposes it, but not quite so much when it is recommended by the McLeod report.
That is fairly inconsistent. However, my views, and those of the members of the opposition, have been perfectly consistent. We are concerned with the protection of the human environment. We believe there should be hazard reduction in appropriate measures in national parks and areas like Black Mountain. The national parks and Black Mountain were, until the Christmas fires-and still are-time bombs.
We could have a fire season like last year's. It certainly seems to be shaping up that way, with a total fire ban in New South Wales yesterday-22 September-and fires raging across northern New South Wales. If we have a fire season like the last one and a fire gets onto Black Mountain, we may well have a situation on our hands to rival 18 January.
That is not good enough for the people of the ACT. I have drawn the attention of this place and its ministers to the hazards on places such as Gossen Hill, the Aranda bushland and Wybalena Grove. To this stage, very little has happened-and there are other places across the ACT where very much has happened.
The Chief Minister had the audacity to say on national television that we had not done any hazard reduction burning in the ACT because it was too wet and cold in the wintertime. I do not think that is the reason. There are many other things occurring.
That brings me to what is really going on with hazard reduction burning. I put a question on the notice paper some time ago. The answering time expired last week. Just before question time today, someone hotfooted it from the Chief Minister's Office with a letter trying to explain that it was really quite difficult to answer such a complex question within 30 days. It was really about how much hazard reduction had happened, and whether that was according to the plan.
There are many things going on here in the ACT which cause us concern. One of those is the instance of Oakey Hill. Environment ACT, after it has been reluctant to do much about hazard reduction, suddenly wants to clear-fell most of Oakey Hill.
I am wondering if we are being set up in a sort of Yes Minister situation where, when people call for hazard reduction, the environmentalists say, "If you want hazard reduction, we will give you hazard reduction."They do it in the most obvious way, in a place where they know it will cause a great number of problems.
In this case, they are proposing to essentially clear-fell all of that area, creating an eyesore and severely impeding the environment around Lyons-on the dubious basis that some of those trees may cause a fire hazard. There are other ways of addressing the fire hazard there-on the even more dubious argument that they are foreign trees, because they come from Tasmania.