Page 4059 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 16 Sept 2009

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reduction activity for this calendar period has been 12,000 hectares. That is made up, Mr Smyth, of 4,000 hectares of grazing, 6,200 hectares of slashing, 700 hectares of prescribed burns, 300 hectares of physical fuel removal and 750 hectares of chemical fuel management.

That is the government’s record. It is a record which shows we are serious about hazard fuel reduction. Mr Smyth should stand up in this place and apologise for his scaremongering and for his deliberate misleading of the Canberra community when it comes to this issue.

MS BURCH: A supplementary on bushfire management: could the minister please detail to the Assembly the importance of endorsing the new national framework for bushfire warning systems in the context of the broader bushfire management strategy?

MR CORBELL: The new bushfire management—

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I know this is early days but I seek your ruling. The original question was about hazard reduction. Ms Burch’s question was about the warning system and the national approach. I am asking you to rule on whether that is directly relevant and the extent to which it needs to be directly relevant.

Ms Burch: The question was in the context of the broader bushfire management strategy which fuel reduction is part of.

Mrs Dunne: Mr Smyth’s question was about hazard reduction and it was about hazard reduction in preparation for this year’s bushfire season.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mrs Dunne. Members, the new rules for question time require a little interpretation. It is my expectation that we will stay fairly close to the original question. I think there is a threat that we end up spreading out too far. I will allow this question on this occasion but I will be keeping a close eye to ensure we do not wander too far.

MR CORBELL: The new rating scale for bushfire warnings has been endorsed by all state and territory governments. It adds two new categories to the rating scale: severe and catastrophic. It also combines the low and moderate rating into a single category. These changes are important to communicate to communities the potential seriousness of extreme bushfire activity.

Prior to these changes, we had to rely simply on the very high or extreme ratings. The difficulty with the extreme rating is that it can comprise fire activity which, whilst serious, may not have the same impact as the type of fire activity you saw, for example, in 2003, on 18 January, in Canberra or the fires earlier this year in Victoria.

To better communicate the severity of the threat, state and territory governments and the commonwealth have agreed on a weighting scale that we believe should be implemented uniformly. I announced yesterday that the ACT will be implementing that, as will all the other states and territories around the country. I think it highlights the value of a coordinated approach, of a national approach. Particularly as people

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