Page 4421 - Week 14 - Thursday, 28 November 2013

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We also have two new rapid deployment containers delivered for ACT Fire and Rescue to replace two operational trailers and one support vehicle. Under the vehicle replacement budget, these were placed into service in August this year. One new heavy rescue pumper has been acquired for ACT Fire and Rescue. One new Pantech support vehicle for ACT Fire and Rescue has also been placed into service in June 2013.

The favourable weather conditions over autumn and early winter this year allowed Territory and Municipal Services to conduct a significant number of hazard reduction burns. The Rural Fire Service has also seen a significant increase in volunteer firefighters joining the service since the January 2013 fire weather events. As at 30 June this year there were 550 RFS volunteers. That is an increase of 21 per cent from the same period in 2011-12—great news for our volunteer brigades. We also remain strong, with a great level of community fire unit volunteers. Overall, the ACT remains well prepared for the forthcoming fire season.

It is important to stress that fires will happen in our landscape, and large fires will potentially happen in our landscape as well. The challenge is to be prepared to respond to them and to mitigate them to the greatest extent possible. I am confident that our authorities have done an excellent task in preparing for both of those aspects of fire management.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, what is the forecast for this year’s bushfire season?

MADAM SPEAKER: The minister for emergency services. Hopefully, it is not too hypothetical.

MR CORBELL: It is a scientific forecast, Madam Speaker. Whether it is hypothetical or not, I will leave that question for you.

Climate indicators across large areas of southern Australia, including the ACT and its surrounding region, indicate that we will face higher than average bushfire risk for the 2013 season. The Bureau of Meteorology rainfall forecast for the October to December quarter favours average conditions over the south-eastern Australian mainland, with a roughly even chance of wetter or drier conditions. The Bureau of Meteorology’s confidence in the October to December outlook is related to how consistently the Pacific and Indian oceans affect Australian rainfall. Oceanic indicators are likely to remain neutral for the remainder of 2013. However, atmospheric indicators such as the southern oscillation index and trade wind strength remain near normal. Overall, what this means is that the outlook accuracy is moderate to high across south-east Australia for the Bureau of Meteorology forecast.

We know that we will see warmer than average daytime and night-time temperatures in the south-east of the continent. The chance that the average October to December 2013 maximum temperature will exceed the long-term median maximum is above 65 per cent. So what this tells us is that we are expecting a hot and dry summer,

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