Page 59 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016

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strategic burns continue, and also the rollout of appropriate machinery to fight bushfires and the strategic placement of our volunteer Rural Fire Service personnel, in fact over last weekend, to keep an active watch for bushfires. They take place in the bushfire towers around the ACT to spot bushfires straightaway, and we have teams ready to deploy should those bushfires begin in those areas.

So quite a deal of effort has gone forward. But, as I said earlier on, we are aware of the fuel load. There is some more rain due to come—

Mrs Jones: Point of order.

MADAM SPEAKER: Mrs Jones on a point of order.

Mrs Jones: Part of the question was about what the government is doing to address Fire & Rescue from the ACT being able to go into the BAZ. I just wonder if the minister is able to answer that before the end.

MADAM SPEAKER: Minister, can you provide Mrs Jones with any information about preparedness in the bushfire abatement zones.

MR GENTLEMAN: Certainly, Madam Speaker. In those zones, we have bushfire preparedness. We have operators trained to enter those zones and of course we keep the float roads clear to ensure that we can, if needed, float in graders to operate in those areas. Our key targets are, of course, the spot fires that occur in those zones, and that is why our RAFT volunteers are prepared and our helicopters are ready to drop them into those areas should a bushfire start to occur.

MR MILLIGAN: How can the community be guaranteed that suitable preparation has taken place?

MR GENTLEMAN: Of course, bushfires do occur in the ACT. It is renowned. We had some very difficult occurrences in the past. Everybody is aware of the 2003 fires. We have learnt quite a good deal from that. The bushfire operational plans that we have in place are good plans. They are strengthened by our operational people on the ground and, of course, the equipment that we have invested in across the ACT.

I think that shows the amount of work for preparedness. Of course, there are also the information and awareness campaigns that we are doing for the community right across the ACT.

Chief Minister’s inclusion awards

MS CODY: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Children and Youth. Minister, you recently announced the winners of the Chief Minister’s inclusion awards. Why are these awards so important?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Cody for her question and acknowledge her longstanding interest in and commitment to the inclusion of people with disability in our community.

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