FIRE BRIGADES BUSHFIRE SECTION
The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Has the Minister's decision to abolish the bush fire section of the New South Wales Fire Brigades led to a lack of co-ordination in handling fire hazard mitigation work? Why did the Minister not make public the findings of his secret review of the bushfire section prior to implementation in March 1991? Will the Minister confirm that under the new arrangements only two fire officers are available full time for training in hazard reduction throughout New South Wales, which is a loss of up to four permanent and nine casual staff?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The Hon. I. M. Macdonald displays a singular lack of understanding of the arrangements that have been made within the Fire Brigades department. The hazard reduction work done throughout this State is primarily done by the volunteer bush fire brigade movement but also by the fire brigades movement established in its own fire districts in the Sydney metropolitan area, Wollongong, Newcastle and other major areas in the State. Both fire2643
fighting agencies become involved in hazard reduction in a way that I will indicate later to the House when I have looked at the briefing that I have just received from my department. To suggest that we have in any way downgraded the capacity of the
fire agencies of this State to reduce hazard is absolute nonsense. Only a few months ago there were bitter complaints when the skies over Sydney suddenly became clouded as a result of the large amount of hazard reduction being done in this State. At that time we had to curtail that work to allow the citizens of Sydney to breathe again. The comments made by the two ill-informed members opposite do not hold water.