Page 170 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2006

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That this Assembly, in light of the Yarralumla Brickworks grass fire of December 2005 and the state of the grass bushfire fuel threat that exists along the urban edge and in Canberra nature parks adjacent to the urban edge:

(1) notes:

(a) and congratulates the Emergency Services and Police in their quick response and good work to save further property from loss during the Yarralumla bushfire; and

(b) the Government’s preparations against bushfire threat but notes those preparations are still far from adequate leaving many suburbs at increased vulnerability to bushfire threat; and

(2) calls on the Government to take immediate action to:

(a) rectify the existing neglected areas and ensure the firebreak along the residential edge in all suburbs with vulnerable bushfire approaches is a minimum of 40 metres wide, including vulnerable inner suburbs;

(b) ensure that additional firebreaks are prepared in ACT Canberra Nature Parks in areas close to the urban edge on vulnerable bushfire approaches; and

(c) strengthen the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan and prepare bushfire operational plans for each vulnerable suburb, village and urban asset.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I reject the government’s amendments to my motion. In one of the amendments the minister talks about investing an additional $130 million—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Pratt, I don’t want to spoil the thrust of your speech but the amendments have not been moved yet.

MR PRATT: Yes, the momentum has been blunted.

MR SPEAKER: I can see that you are very keen to get on to it but you will have to wait until the amendments are moved.

MR PRATT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The motion that I have just moved highlights an important issue that is of major concern to the majority of the ACT community. It is a call for the Stanhope government to reduce fire risks by urgently addressing dangerous pockets of long grass in areas close to suburban homes and in urban and environmental parklands. While some areas have been slashed, burnt or mowed, this activity is not happening often enough to alleviate the concerns of many Canberrans who have written to me about danger areas close to where they live.

I remind you, Mr Speaker, of the greater danger posed by prairie wildfires in the USA and Australian grassland and plain fires when good rains have allowed substantial grass growth, as is the case this year in the ACT. I am told that it is the worst grass growth that we have seen for five to six years. Research has shown how even treeless plains can foster wild and devastatingly fast fires if there is a substantial grass bushfire fuel risk,

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