Page 4291 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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the community will take action to reduce fuel hazard loads. Most land managers do. Most land managers will. Most people in our community are responsible citizens who take their duties seriously and ensure their fuel hazard loads are reduced. But there will always be a minority of landowners who will not—and in some cases perhaps they cannot; perhaps they are away or perhaps they are ill or perhaps they do not have the resources to undertake fuel hazard reduction tasks. In these cases, we believe it is essential that the Commissioner of the Emergency Services Authority has that authority to go to those land managers, through his agents, and either assist the land managers with resources or technical advice to undertake those hazard reduction tasks, or, in the minority of cases where those land managers refuse to comply with the direction to clear fuel hazard loads, the commissioner and his agents must have the authority to go in and clean up those landed areas. That is the aim of this amendment.

As I was saying earlier, we think the government’s bill is a very sensible one. But I do not agree with the minister when he says that these are simply minor amendments to finetune the act. I think his bill actually goes a long way to plug serious gaps that exist in the current act. But we still believe that further steps can be taken. We would like to see the minister build more time in to allow for the processing of bushfire operational plans and we would like to see the minister build into the act a lot more authority to allow the Emergency Services Authority, if necessary, to take necessary action.

The first duty of government is its duty of care to the broader community and if, on behalf of the broader community, it needs to direct its agents to carry out cleansing work, it must do so. It must do that and we believe the bill must give it the authority. I commend the amendments.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.58): Mr Speaker, the Emergencies Act took a long time and a lot of negotiation with lots of people, a lot of it bipartisan, to come to fruition. Mr Pratt has wandered in here with these amendments after being offered the opportunity to discuss his concerns with my office. He chose not to do so. If he thinks for a second that he can wander in here with a couple of amendments, put them on the table, run a case and expect me to support them without having them checked by a competent authority, when I have very serious doubts about his competence in all things, then he has been smoking something. I feel disinclined to support these amendments and I advise the Assembly that the government will not be accepting any one of these amendments.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.59): I must say that the arrival of these amendments at such a late date has required me to leave my chair in order to consult.

Mr Hargreaves: You should not have wasted your time as they will not be getting up.

DR FOSKEY: I know that they will not be getting up. I think that is a bit of a pity. I feel sorry that, unfortunately, Mr Pratt did not bring them to us until this late stage, because I think that that is the major reason that they are not going to get up. I think that there is some good sense in them and I am nonetheless inclined to support the first amendments to clauses 10 and 12, but I would need to consult before I could agree to supporting the amendment to section 84, which is a much more far-reaching amendment.

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