Page 3841 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 19 October 2005

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two years; we got it all out of the way in two days. What this bill does is very simple and straightforward. Mr Hargreaves gave a wonderful exposition about all the issues and procedures involved in bushfire fuel management, like clearing and raking and cutting grass—all of those things which are done increasingly well by authorities in the ACT. That shows that we have learnt some lessons from 2003, and it is sad that we had to have such a horrendous occurrence for us to learn those lessons, which many hardened bushfire fighters and others have been talking about for a long time.

Putting that aside, land managers are doing an improved job. We had visitors at home the other day, and they were complimenting us on the improved aspect around our home as a result of that hazard reduction. Urban services have done such a good job of taking out dead wood, taking out stuff lying on the ground, raking and cutting the grass—all of those things. But there are places where those things are not adequate. Mr Hargreaves has acknowledged that. Hazard reduction burning is not the only weapon in the armament, but hazard reduction burning is an important part of it. There are places where it is entirely appropriate and others where it is entirely inappropriate. This bill makes that simpler.

Mr Hargreaves made reference to the smoke management guidelines. Those smoke management guidelines require reference back to somebody who is not on the ground. My proposed legislation would mean that, on the day of the projected burn, the final decision would lie with the manager on the ground, the person who says, “Okay, boys, we go ahead.” It should not have to be referred back. The inconvenience of smoke on that day is a small price to pay for not having the inconvenience of having our suburbs burn down next year or the year after. Although this government has made significant progress in improving hazard reduction in many areas, it is a great disappointment that this simple change, which was asked for by volunteers and people on the ground who are land managers and who would like to have this extra flexibility, a small piece of flexibility, has been denied.

It is not surprising that the Greens would find any opportunity to give themselves a platform to speak about the evils of hazard reduction, and not to concentrate on the small aspect of improving people’s life, which this bill does. But it is a huge disappointment that the minister for emergency services does not see the benefit of the bill.

Question put:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The Assembly voted—

Ayes 7

Noes 10

Mrs Burke

Mr Smyth

Mr Berry

Mr Hargreaves

Mrs Dunne

Mr Stefaniak

Mr Corbell

Ms MacDonald

Mr Mulcahy

Dr Foskey

Ms Porter

Mr Pratt

Ms Gallagher

Mr Quinlan

Mr Seselja

Mr Gentleman

Mr Stanhope

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