Page 2333 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008
In regard to the Emergency Services Agency, the legal affairs committee is having an inquiry into that, so I will not step onto that ground, but I am concerned about the Fairbairn building. A lot of rent is being paid on that, and I am interested in what can be done about that and what the plans are for it. I know there is general satisfaction with the building. There were a lot of concerns with the Curtin building, but it worries me very much that the Fairbairn building is located where it is, that it is fattening the pockets of a private business consortium that has already got very fat pockets and that we are not even really using it.
I am very pleased that the community fire units network has expanded. I think that is really good. I have been told that there is training around the use of them, but people will know I have advocated a number of times a community development approach to the way we prepare our neighbourhoods for fire so that nobody will ever be left in danger in their houses, as happened on Mount Stromlo, because someone will know where everyone is, or should be, and there will be a duty of care for that whole neighbourhood.
The community development approach could extend to preparedness for climate change, working bees to help an ageing population, helping people who live on their own and so on. This is just a way of building our community and our social capital that could inform so many of the ways that we do things, not just in relation to emergency services but also community safety. I am not really talking about the old neighbourhood watch model, but that did have elements that we are missing in our society today. Mr Pratt talked about good neighbours, and I think that being a good neighbour is a harder and harder thing to do because we do not see our neighbours much. I do think that there are urban forms that create better neighbourhoods, and I would like us to be cognisant of that.
I also want to refer to the Olympic torch relay. We have had discussions about this in this place before. I was not in Australia at the time the relay took place. I was certainly around during discussions where it became evident that the torch relay might become a security issue, and we still do not know if the commonwealth came up with its half of the money. I have had evidence sent to me, I have seen photos, and I do know that there were real concerns about security. There was a heavy police presence, and the torch got through, but anyone who seriously wanted to tackle the torchbearers or disrupt the procession probably could have done so. That did not happen, and that is because the people who were protesting, human rights protestors, are actually peaceful people. They went to great lengths to make their point without violence. There was real intimidation, although Mr Stanhope has denied that. I think that must have been because he was either at the start or the finish point at any time, and at those locations the pro-Tibetan demonstrators had a critical mass large enough to stand up to the part of the crowd which was very anti the pro-Tibetan demonstrators. It was a really scary experience for some, and I know that because of the emails I have been sent about it.
There are some other issues I just want to flag briefly. I want to commend Francis and Ross Dunn on the work they are doing on police chases. I know that is a way for them of dealing with their most terrible loss, and I think their tolerance and forbearance and