Page 4290 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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The authority is required to—

(a) approve the draft bushfire operational plan for the area; or

(b) approve the draft plan for the area with stated amendments; or

(c) decide not to approve the draft plan.

Again, the aim of my substituted section 78 (3) is to ensure that the authority does address every single draft bushfire operational plan that land managers are obliged to submit. It allows the authority the right to either simply reject the plan or, on behalf of the land manager, to amend the plan with suggestions as to how that plan might be improved, to then of course be resubmitted for a further analysis, but at least to ensure that every single piece of land that is under the jurisdiction of the authority, in terms of bushfire management, has a bushfire operational plan covering it and submitted in good time.

The amendment also seeks to substitute the following in section 78 (4):

The authority is required to approve or reject in writing a draft bushfire operational plan with or without amendments within 90 working days of its submission to the authority.

That essentially means that, where we now require all land managers to submit a bushfire operational plan by 1 June, 90 days later we require the authority to either approve or reject that plan. The 90-day working period still allows time for remedial action to be taken well before the bushfire season for that year starts. That is the aim of our amendment to 78 (4). Again, it both reinforces the obligation of the land manager to submit the bushfire operational plan on time, and directs the authority to deal with that bushfire operational plan within a 90-day working period, which still builds in to the time frame of bushfire preventative planning sufficient time to take remedial action.

My next amendment seeks to insert the following section 84 (2) on fire fuel reduction:

The authority may, at any time in accordance with the strategic bushfire management plan and the Environment Protection Act 1997, direct the land manager of unleased Territory land and/or owners of land within a bushfire abatement zone to allow the relevant authorities to light a controlled fire and take other appropriate clearing actions for the purpose of reducing the risk of bushfire or the spread of the bushfire.

The aim of this amendment is to put more authority in the hands of the ESA commissioner, and indeed even the minister, to ensure that where there are parcels of land in the ACT where the land managers have not taken appropriate action to reduce the bushfire fuel hazard the authority can do so, or the authority can at least direct that land manager to take action or can go on to that land manager’s land and, with the land manager, assist, advise or, if necessary, take action. We do not believe that it is good enough any more to allow what happened in 2002, when bushfire fuel hazard loads were allowed to build, which set in place the time bomb that we saw approaching the January 2003 bushfire disaster.

We do not think it is any longer appropriate to allow that risk to grow and it is not simply good enough to ask the community or to consult with the community and just hope that

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