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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5198 ..

Fire hydrants

MR CORNWELL (11.04): Mr Speaker, I do not know whether my comments should be directed at the minister at the table, but never mind. We have had some problems lately, as you know, with house fires and call centres. I saw a letter to the editor this morning in relation to fire hydrants. It seemed to me to be a matter of some concern because this gentleman said that, having lifted the lid on a fire hydrant in a nature strip, he found a large quantity of compacted dirt before the hydrant itself was revealed.

As you are aware, Mr Speaker, these hydrants are all over town. I just do not know how many of them are not clear and how many of them have a substantial amount of compacted dirt over them, as this gentleman found. He spoke to a fire station about the problem and was told that that was not uncommon. The station also advised that dirt covering hydrants has caused delays in fighting fires. It does not come as a surprise to me that that may be the case.

As I say, I have no idea how many hydrants there may be throughout Canberra-I am sure that there would be thousands-but I would support this gentleman's comment that some form of regular inspection should be instituted-I am not suggesting every week-just to ensure that we do not face another problem of a house fire being unable to be properly addressed, at least for some little time, until the hydrant itself not only is found, but also is cleaned out before it can operate. I just leave that with the government. It might like to get back to me some time.

Youth at risk

MR PRATT (11.07): Mr Speaker, I want to talk briefly tonight about youth risk intervention and diversionary programs. I will do so by describing a couple of good activities that I have seen. I do believe that we need to ramp up diversionary programs. That is clearly government policy now. They do believe in that and we certainly do on this side of the house. But further development of those programs is extremely important.

I have talked a number of times in this place about recidivist youth offenders. From talking to police officers we know that a lot of the middle to lower level crime and vandalism is carried out by pretty much the same small part of the Canberra population, a very small minority of our youth. They are not necessarily youth at risk in terms of coming from broken families. Some of them are kids from, shall I say, well-heeled families. Nevertheless, the police and youth workers generally have a fairly good idea where these people are and they know that something needs to be done to help them out.

The police certainly do say that it is necessary to start targeting that group of the youth population in order to bring down that middle to lower level crime-certainly the property crime. There are some very good programs under way around the town. The police are saying that they would much rather see intervention and diversionary programs in place so that they do not have to keep arresting the same old kids over and over again as they go through the revolving door we keep talking about that frustrates this side of the house immensely and, no doubt, the community as well.

St Vincent de Paul runs a very good program at Tuggeranong. They say that any night from 8.00 to 10.00 pm you will see lots of kids hanging around the Tuggeranong shops

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