Page 4459 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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Again, we urge the Stanhope government to take note of the trials in Victoria and the research in Queensland that analysed driver deaths and found that 40 per cent of those drivers had drugs in their system. I think it is about time that we had the government taking a much more serious approach to this concern. It is something that we probably do not have a full understanding of. We need to research it far more deeply. We may be looking at the tip of the iceberg.

Community fire units

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.20): I rise this evening to bring to the Assembly’s attention an important event that took place on Saturday last, that is, the commissioning of 28 community fire units. Following the 2003 bushfires, the ACT government recognised the willingness of the community to have more involvement in the preparation and protection of their homes in the event of a bushfire.

As you know, Mr Speaker, the ACT has a wonderful record of volunteering, with 42 per cent of the adult population in the ACT regularly volunteering. It is that wonderful volunteer spirit that the government has been able to work with to recruit, train, and equip these 28 units, involving 450 active volunteers, based on a successful model in New South Wales. These units are not meant to replace the ACT’s fire service; but, with their specially designed and equipped trailers, these trained volunteers working in suburbs and streets on the fringe of the city will protect property until the arrival of either the ACT Fire Brigade or the ACT Rural Fire Service.

On Saturday, speaker after speaker mentioned the hidden, though very real, benefit that these units have brought to their communities. On chatting to my own Hawker unit after the formal part of the ceremony, I heard again how forming the units has built community capacity in these neighbourhoods. Once, neighbours did not know one another; people lived in dormitories rather than in communities. Now, as one volunteer related to me, “We all know one another in our street. We all look out for one another and we know when someone is needing help.” Another volunteer said, “We know when someone is going to be away and we can make sure their place is looked after.”

Mr Speaker, when I first became involved in supporting the Stanhope government’s initiative to introduce these units and became involved in training the first batch of officers that would be supervising the volunteers, I knew that further benefits such as we are observing would flow. I commend all who were involved in this initiative. I commend Steve Gibbs, who has been involved from the beginning in organising the fire units. I commend all the fire brigade officers who work with the teams. I commend the coordinators of the teams and all the volunteers, in particular Garth Brice who was instrumental in setting up the community fire units post-2003.

Chief Minister

ACTION bus service


MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (6.23): Mr Speaker, I wish to make a number of points. Firstly, I was rather amused to see the Chief Minister’s media release yesterday

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