Page 4851 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 27 November 2018

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MS FITZHARRIS: I do not believe that there was any, but I will take the question on notice.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, you say that there is no longer a backlog. How long did it take to clear the backlog, and what processes have been put in place to ensure that a backlog does not arise again?

MS FITZHARRIS: There is high demand for diagnostic services. I will take Mrs Dunne’s question on notice.


MS ORR: My question is to the police and emergency services minister. What update can the minister provide about the upcoming ACT bushfire season?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Orr for her interest in the safety of all Canberrans as the season gets closer. Madam Speaker, as you may be aware, the ACT is facing an increased risk from severe bushfire weather this coming summer in addition to increased risk from severe heatwaves and windstorms.

The predicted weather and ongoing drought across much of eastern Australia will continue to contribute to dry fuels, strong winds and predicted severe heatwaves. The ACT, along with surrounding regions of New South Wales, will face difficult conditions this summer.

After consulting with the ACT Bushfire Council at their meeting on 1 August this year, and discussing the risks presented to the ACT and the seasonal outlook, the Commissioner of the ACT Emergency Services Agency declared that the bushfire season for 2018-19 would commence early, on 1 September 2018.

The recent Pierces Creek fire was a strong reminder of the risks that Canberra faces as the bush capital. I note the warning of the ESA commissioner that, with the influence of climate change, our fire seasons are getting longer. In the past, incidents such as the Pierces Creek fire, which was in early November, would not normally have been seen until after the Christmas period. This reinforces the importance of the public messages that the ESA has been issuing to the community: “Canberra be bushfire ready.”

Let me assure members that the ACT government, including the ESA, is better prepared for a bushfire emergency than ever before. The ACT’s emergency plans and policies, warning systems and governance arrangements lead emergency management practice on a national level. The ACT community can be confident that they continue to live in one of the safest cities in the world, with well-funded, well-resourced and well-governed emergency services.

MS ORR: How has the government prepared and what should Canberrans be doing to prepare for the bushfire season?

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