Page 524 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 13 February 2013

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fire completely. We can seek to ameliorate its impacts, but Australia is a landscape of fire, and we have to be prepared for it. We have to be ready to respond to it, and we have to do everything feasible to try and ameliorate those risks.

The government have made significant investments in bushfire response capability. We have invested in new stations, in new sheds, in new vehicles, and in equipment and training. I would like to talk about some of those things today. Mr Seselja talks about allegations that sheds were not big enough for vehicles. That claim is untrue. That claim is untrue. It was made, though it is untrue, and those sheds, particularly the Jerrabomberra shed—I think that was mentioned—continues to perform well.

Of course, the government has provided capital funding of over $1 million for a new shed out at Tidbinbilla for the Tidbinbilla RFS brigade. This state-of-the-art facility provides that brigade on the western interface with the ACT with the facilities it needs to help protect the local rural community in the Tidbinbilla valley and surrounds. It also acts as an important capability, a potential refuge, for fire for that community as well as a staging point and an operational control point should that be needed out on the western interface.

I had the great honour of officially opening that shed in August last year, and the response from the local rural community and the brigade members was overwhelmingly positive about what a great facility they now have for the work that they do every day as RFS volunteers.

The government has provided, as I mentioned earlier, over $2 million for major works to upgrade RFS facilities at the Rivers and Jerrabomberra brigades. Again, those facilities really are state of the art for volunteer brigades, not just here in the ACT. I would say that they are equal to anything you can see in New South Wales, Victoria or South Australia. It is a great resource for our volunteers and a clear demonstration of this government’s commitment to the work that they do.

There has also been the significant investments in the new ESA headquarter facilities at Fairbairn, the outstanding new ESA training facility out near Symonston, Hume, on the Monaro Highway and, of course, the new RFS heli-base at Hume, which has been given a really good workout over the summer to date and is performing exceptionally well.

Of course, it is not just about response capability, as important as that is. Information preparedness is just as important. The government continue to improve and refine our governance arrangements for the management and coordination of our response. We have strengthened statutory arrangements, and we have put in place new education campaigns and public messaging arrangements to make sure the community get the information they need.

For example, there have been very effective programs such as Farm FireWise, which is engaging with rural lessees on how they can better prepare their properties for fire. There has been the StormSafe campaign, the winter home fire safety campaign and the road accident awareness and bushfire awareness campaigns. So there has been a comprehensive campaign in our community that is an ongoing effort of the ESA.

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