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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3614 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

fire danger to assets, they may be retained. This is the case, for example, with some blue gums on Mount Taylor and Farrer Ridge.

The National Capital Authority has demonstrated a clear understanding of the objectives of the bushfire fuel reduction program, unlike the Liberal Party, and it has cooperated with us in this work by giving approval for the work being undertaken.

Mr Smyth: Point of order, Mr Speaker. The Chief Minister said he was quoting from a report. Is there reference to the Liberal Party in the report?

MR SPEAKER: That's not a point of order. Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, the most significant changes will be the removal of the blue gum plantations from Oakey Hill, and the removal of blue gum and pine plantations from O'Connor Ridge that are not endemic to the areas. Should there be any consequential adverse affect on the environment from these activities, such as erosion or weed invasion, appropriate measures will be taken.

To date, work has commenced or been undertaken at Black Mountain, Gossan Hill, O'Connor Ridge, Mount Ainslie, Mount Pleasant, Aranda bushland, Oakey Hill and Farrer Ridge. Further hazard reduction activities are planned for the Duntroon Dairy, Black Mountain, Cooleman Ridge, Red Hill, Percival Hill, Mount Taylor, Isaacs Ridge, Farrer Ridge and O'Connor Ridge. The accelerated fire fuel hazard reduction program is expected to be completed by February.

The work being undertaken Environment ACT on Oakey Hill and other parts of Canberra Nature Park complements that being undertaken by Canberra Urban Parks and Places on urban open space throughout the city. The fuel reduction work is one aspect of the many actions the government has put in train as a result of lessons learnt from January's fires. These actions will reduce our susceptibility to bushfire damage and enhance our capacity to fight bushfires.

Residences adjacent to areas of Canberra Nature Park on which tree removal work is proposed have been provided with notification of Environment ACT's intention and three media releases have been issued. Residences adjacent to Oakey Hill and O'Connor Ridge were invited to meetings in recognition of the significant landscape change that must result from tree removal in these areas. The meetings were for the provision of information rather than for consultation, as the position reached by Environment ACT, after taking relevant expert advice, is that the trees should be removed.

However, it has been made very clear that residents will be consulted on future landscape remediation works. This consultation is planned to commence post the forthcoming fire season and, as I indicated yesterday, and I reiterate, every tree removed as part of this process, will be replaced by two plants.

But I must say-and I will repeat it here now-that I stand by Environment ACT and their actions, acknowledging that issues around communication perhaps could have been enhanced and we have now responded to that. The government, however, will not sit on its hands when it is clear that some areas of our community face significant danger from bushfires, even though so much of the Territory was burnt last January.

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