Page 512 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 21 February 2012

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MR CORBELL: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. I am aware of these reports. I understand that the comments by Professor Clarke relate to broadacre prescribed burning proposals in Victoria. Professor Clarke recently made some public comments on the current prescribed burning total of five per cent that has been set for Victoria. His criticism, as I understand it, is based on this target being achieved by broadacre burning of large areas of Victorian public land, much of which is well away from communities.

The ACT has no policy of five per cent. Instead, through the strategic bushfire management plan we adopted an approach which is in line with recommendations scientists have made regarding a coordinated plan that treats all areas of the landscape. The ACT strategic bushfire plan version 2 identifies protections that are implemented at a household level through inner asset protection zones, building controls in line with the Australian standard, and education about household planning and maintenance.

Beyond this, the plan identifies outer asset protection zones. In these zones, a combination of burning and grazing can occur. In particular, the prescribed burns conducted in these areas are the very activities that Professor Clarke has said are required to protect the community in Victoria. The ACT plan also requires strategic broadacre hazard reduction to occur. These large areas are in strategic locations to provide broad protection to the community. This is not inconsistent with the current debate that is currently underway in relation to the way planned and coordinated elements of the strategic bushfire plan should be implemented and is different from the five per cent target approach suggested in Victoria.

It is worth highlighting that recent research by the Fenner school at the ANU and research from the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre supports the approach of the government in terms of the actions outlined in our strategic bushfire management plan.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, how has the Victorian government responded to the royal commission’s findings about prescribed burning and has the ACT government assessed its response?

MR CORBELL: It is not for me to comment on how the Victorian government is responding to this matter, but in relation to whether or not the ACT government has assessed its response the answer is yes and we believe that our strategic bushfire management plan represents best practice in Australia when it comes to the use of hazard reduction in all of its forms to help to ameliorate the risk of bushfire.

Queensland flood emergency—assistance

MR HARGREAVES: Can the minister outline what assistance is being provided by the ACT to assist Queensland with its flood emergency?

MR CORBELL: As members would be aware, significant flooding occurred in inland Queensland and northern and western New South Wales during late January and early February this year. Some of that flooding is still ongoing, although the threat to large settled areas has now passed.

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