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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2016) . . Page.. 70 ..

The government thanks the committee for its careful and considered amendments to the act and its comments in relation to them. It believes that this amendment bill which we will now bring forward shortly represents an important step in this ongoing process.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Public Accounts—Standing Committee

Report 20—government response

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Capital Metro, Minister for Health, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Environment and Climate Change): For the information of members, I present the following paper (3.39):

Public Accounts—Standing Committee—Report 20—Review of Auditor-General’s Report No 5 of 2013: Bushfire Preparedness—Government response.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MR CORBELL: I am pleased to table the government’s response to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts review of the Auditor-General’s 2013 report into bushfire preparedness. Along with storms and extreme heat events, bushfires pose the greatest risk to Canberrans when it comes to natural hazards. Since 1939 the largest impacts from bushfire have arisen from a small number of very large fires in 1939, 1952, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1991, 2001 and 2003.

In the 2003 bushfires over 70 per cent of the ACT’s total physical area was burnt and four lives were tragically lost along with over 500 homes of Canberrans. Facing one of the worst bushfire events ever experienced in Australia, our ACT emergency crews heroically did the best they could. On 18 January that year men and women of the emergency services worked with the community and saved over 1,000 homes and countless lives. Whilst this was a catastrophic event for our community, without our emergency services personnel it could have been a lot worse.

The bushfire left affected suburbs without electricity, gas and water for a number of weeks and required years of rebuilding and healing from its devastating effects. The bushfires in 2003 reduced vegetation fuel levels and lowered the territory’s risk from large fires for a number of years. However, this vegetation is regenerating.

The ACT needs to be well prepared for our changing climate and the expectation of hotter and drier weather increasing in frequency as a result of climate change. It was fitting that 10 years after the devastating 2003 fires the ACT Auditor-General released its performance audit into bushfire preparedness. The objective of the performance audit was to provide an independent opinion to the Assembly on the effectiveness of the government’s approach to bushfire preparedness. The report made 24 recommendations of which the government accepted all, either wholly or in part.

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