Page 4058 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 16 Sept 2009

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Bushfires—controlled burns

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, this morning on ABC radio 666 you commented on preparations for the bushfire season by saying, “The ESA and our land managers have conducted comprehensive back-burning activity over the last six months.” I think you meant fuel reduction loads, but that is okay. You concluded, “Indeed, 19 out of 20 controlled burns were completed, burning a total of 373 hectares.” Minister, why did the ESA and the land managers conduct controlled burns for such a small area of the ACT in the lead-up to the 2009-10 bushfire season?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, it is not a small area in terms of hazard reduction overall. This is the extremely disappointing element of the Liberal Party’s question on this.

Mr Stanhope: How much was done in 2001 by your mob? How much was done in 2001 under Mr Smyth?

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Stanhope!

MR CORBELL: The Liberal Party are deliberately scaring the ACT community. They are deliberately scaring the ACT community. This is why—

Members interjecting—

MR CORBELL: Do you know how many hectares were affected by fuel reduction this year? It is 12,000 hectares of fuel reduction activity this year, including slashing, grazing, chemical treatment and hazard reduction burning—12,000 hectares.

Mr Smyth can trot around his 300 hectares figure as much as he likes. Fuel reduction, including grazing, slashing, physical removal and hazard reduction burning in the ACT is 12,000 hectares. I am happy to put that record against Mr Smyth’s record of fuel reduction for all the time that he was emergency services minister.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, a supplementary question?

MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, as you said this morning that controlled burns were sometimes only needed every four or five years, how much area should be burned in control burns each year?

MR CORBELL: That is determined by the strategic bushfire management plan, and I refer Mr Smyth to that. But Mr Smyth has been caught out on this issue. Twelve thousand hectares of fuel management activity has been undertaken. It has to be said that Mr Smyth is deliberately and wilfully misleading and scaring the ACT community on this issue. He is attempting to portray a situation where there has basically been no hazard reduction activity. That is the claim he is making.

He is saying that there has not been enough hazard reduction activity and he is using a figure of 300 hectares when he knows and has been told that the total amount of fuel

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