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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4700 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

in the field have said that the McLeod model cannot work. There is no confidence in the McLeod model. As a result, we have seen fit to introduce our own legislation.

Mr Corbell also raised the point that we had not sought to amend the Bushfire Act 1936. Certainly, the amendments are not enclosed in the legislation that is now on the table, but I have foreshadowed amendments to the Bushfire Act 1936 and a raft of other acts. The parliamentary counsel's advice to me is that the consequential amendments are debated at a separate time after the primary bill is approved. On this occasion, I would propose that we do that were we to be successful with the primary bill by having those amendments tabled for discussion during the December sitting.

Ms Dundas raised a couple of issues. I thought her point about consultation was absolutely reasonable. Yes, it would be preferable to have all of the stakeholders in the community involved at every point of the analysis and the development process in coming up with a new model, which is clearly what we wanted. Since late summer 2003 we have consulted widely with the broad community, specifically the bushfire fighting and emergency community. We wanted to see a round table held to process the issue, but one has not come about yet and time is of the essence. My bringing on of the debate today is a call to expedite a very serious and urgently needed reform.

With respect to the point made by Ms Tucker, we would not wish to compromise environmental management. I would like to assure Ms Tucker and my colleagues in the Assembly that the authorities that we propose to establish with this model would be bound by environmental planning concerns. Ms Tucker ought to be aware of that. The love for the bush capital and a desire for its preservation run deeply through the ACT community and will run deeply through the organisation that we are proposing.

I turn to some other issues. The Fire, Emergency Services and Ambulance Authorities Bill 2003 has been the most controversial legislation that the Liberal opposition has introduced into the Assembly. It may be controversial, but we do believe that it is very necessary for the safety of the ACT community. It is important to the morale of the staff and management of the current Emergency Services Bureau structure and the cohesiveness of emergency management in the ACT.

Firstly, let me say that the driving force behind this bill has been consultation, consultation, consultation. The Liberal opposition have consulted with numerous groups in relation to this bill and a common theme has echoed through their feedback: we must restore the integrity of, and the trust in, the ACT's emergency services capability to make the ACT a safer place to live.

I congratulate the ACT emergency services on their efforts over the past two years in fighting against the most devastating fires the ACT has seen in recent times, including one of the greatest bushfire disasters seen in a concentrated form anywhere in this country, certainly in living memory. These noble and brave people did the best they could under the circumstances, but they can only do their best to operate under the structure that is currently in place above them.

The time has come for this structure to change. At least McLeod has talked about changing it, but we do not think he has gone far enough. The Liberal opposition is trying today with this bill to push that change. It is trying to change, through improvement, the

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