Page 2097 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2016

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MR CORBELL: I would say, through you, Madam Speaker, that Mr Jeffery needs to substantiate that claim rather than simply say it is not the case. What is he alluding to? This government has made very significant investments in bushfire-fighting capability. We now have a very clear policy of rapid attack of bushfires when they first break out, including both ground crews and aerial firefighting capability. We have remote area firefighting teams that can be winched in. We have, as standard practice, the capacity for bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment to be forward deployed ready to respond to fires during the bushfire season. These are all practices that are now commonplace in our territory. They demonstrate that we understand the implications of not having those types of practices in place—lessons that were learnt the hard and difficult way following the 2003 fires—but they are all now practices that are commonplace and standard for our Emergency Services Agency. It means we are better placed to respond to bushfires and to tackle them early and quickly before they become a significant and real danger to our community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.

MRS JONES: Minister, what support are volunteer firefighting services getting as part of this extra money?

MR CORBELL: As a result of this government’s investment in the ACT Rural Fire Service, we have supported the delivery of new firefighting vehicles, both new tankers and new light unit capabilities; we have invested in new aerial firefighting capability; and we have invested in new firefighting brigade sheds such as the ones I mentioned in my earlier answer, like the Tidbinbilla shed, delivered under this government; a shed I know that Mr Jeffery and others opposite would be very familiar with. Equally, there have been upgrades to the Guises Creek shed, upgrades to the rivers brigade and upgrades to a range of other facilities across the city.

That is the investment this government has made in rural firefighting capability. It is something we are very proud of and it is something we will continue to focus very strongly on.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mrs Jones.

MRS JONES: Minister, what consultation have you or the ESA commissioner personally had with rural bushfire volunteers in the past four years?

MR CORBELL: Of course, I would point out to Mrs Jones that I have been minister in this role in my most recent incarnation since only December last year. What I can say is that both I and my predecessor have had a practice that has been sustained for a long period of time of meeting on a regular basis, a quarterly basis, with volunteers, representatives of the captains group in the RFS, representatives of the commanders group in the SES and representatives of the Volunteer Brigades Association as well. We do that so that we can hear directly the voices and perspectives of volunteers both in the RFS and the SES. It has been a longstanding practice.

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