Page 2460 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 29 June 2005

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and they do not respond to a number of other items. I did not try a knife. What I have found does work—and what people need to be told about—is a vacuum cleaner. They will often go off because there is a little bit of dust in a place that, of course, triggers its very sensitive mechanism. So, smoke alarms, yes; but a smoke alarm that is turned off or otherwise interfered with will not save lives. So there is an education campaign required, too.

I know of several well-designed houses in Canberra that have been built with the correct solar orientation and other features that trap the heat in winter and dispel it in summer, where fires and heaters are only needed a couple of days a year—yes, I am talking about Canberra—and those are the times when skies are grey for several days in a row.

There is another way that we can prevent fire, by guiding people, through regulation, towards building houses that do not need heaters. Of course we have got a while to go with that. Many rental and low-income households are not able to make the investment. It is expensive to renovate homes to make the best use of solar and convectional energy if the house was designed poorly in the first place.

Until the time comes when a large percentage of the population are able to live in energy efficient households, fires will continue to be a problem because there are other causes of fire. There is, for instance, the issue of leaving the iron on, leaving a hot plate on overnight and, in fact, all kinds of careless acts that very ordinary people do. I must say that fire is one of things that I am absolutely phobic about, having lived in a neighbourhood where I saw two houses burn down when I was a child.

What I would like to say is: remember, smoke detectors only save homes if they are heard. They will not save an empty house. I guess the good thing about smoke detectors is that, if there are people in the house, they will save lives and may save the house. But if something occurs while the house is empty, that smoke detector will not save it. We must have education. We must remember that smoke detectors are, at best, only a partial measure. Nonetheless, they can be supportive.

I would also support Mr Pratt’s amendment. While I support Mrs MacDonald’s motion, I think it could have a little bit more of a hard edge to it. I think Mr Pratt’s amendment gives it that.

Question put:

That Mr Pratt’s amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 8

Noes 9

Mrs Burke

Mr Seselja

Mr Berry

Ms MacDonald

Mrs Dunne

Mr Smyth

Mr Corbell

Ms Porter

Dr Foskey

Mr Stefaniak

Ms Gallagher

Mr Quinlan

Mr Mulcahy

Mr Gentleman

Mr Stanhope

Mr Pratt

Mr Hargreaves

Question so resolved in the negative.

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