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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3688 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

appear to be first thoughts, are not set out in the broader context. No process is available to us to check or assign those recommendations before we implement them.

I was somewhat reassured by statements that were made to the estimates committee that the final structure will be worked out after the fire season. Work that is carried out in the meantime is designed to fill in the gaps. Residents of Lyons and others who use Oakey Hill on a daily basis have established that there is a great deal of confusion and rigidity-which is not a good combination-in the implementation of some of these initiatives. The Chief Minister undertook to establish where the pressure was coming from in the Assembly on Tuesday to remove all blue gums. Yesterday he made a statement reminding Assembly members of those serious bushfires, something about which I do not think we need to be reminded. Any member who makes a statement about what has been happening after those bushfires does not forget the serious nature of those bushfires. I found a little offensive the Chief Minister's statement that last year's bushfires were serious.

People are aware of the serious nature of those bushfires. We, as elected representatives of the community, are aware of the breach of trust as a result of those poor processes. The issue relating to Lyons residents does not relate only to the felling of every blue gum; it relates also to the question of flexibility. How will we engage the community in this process? Will we take them along with us? Yesterday the Chief Minister acknowledged, as have his senior officers, that the communication strategy on this hazard reduction exercise was extremely flawed. There is still real concern that this is an overreaction. A lot of work has to be done by the government if it wants to regain the trust of the community.

Yesterday or the day before I made the point that residents and one person in my office received some form of communication that indicated that the information relating to the removal of blue gums came directly from the Chief Minister's office. The Chief Minister said that that was not the case, and I accept his statement. However, as I said earlier, that information was received by residents and by one member of my staff. Information that is supplied to the community must be accurate. If ministers deny statements that they have made it does not instil confidence or engender trust in a process. A lot more hazard reduction has to occur. I think the Minister said earlier that he had tabled a new communication strategy, which I look forward to reading. It is important to have a communication strategy as a number of areas will be subject to hazard reduction and we do not want a repeat of the Lyons fiasco. Obviously there are different views in this continuing debate about hazard reduction.

MS DUNDAS (11.34): I speak briefly in debate on the Appropriation Bill. The ACT Democrats support this bill, which has as its main object the appropriation of additional money to cover costs flowing from the January 2003 bushfires. The bushfire costs relate mainly to the cost of land remediation, fire-fighting preparedness and the rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure. However I, like the estimates committee as a whole, am concerned about the additional burden that has been placed on the community sector-an issue that has not been properly recognised by the government. Although the government, through this Appropriation Bill, is funding additional counselling services, the load on many other community organisations increased following the fires, but those organisations have not yet received additional financial assistance to help them cope with that increase in demand.

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