PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES (BUSHFIRES COMMITTEE) AMENDMENT BILL
Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (11:20): I have to say that the member for Little Para is a thoroughly decent chap, but he has been sent in here to do a dreadful, dreadful job. We are all familiar with the term 'announce and defend', but I tell you this: if we have a fire anywhere in South Australia, the government will be flat out defending after announcing that it will not support the member for Davenport and his initiative to set up a committee on bushfires.
I am a proud and active member of the CFS in South Australia in the Wilmington brigade. I had a call-out one night last week—it was Tuesday or Wednesday night—to a fire near Quorn. This is a very serious issue. We all know that there are no rules in regard to bushfires. It is not as if you just look at what has happened and say, 'Right. We've studied it. We know what's going on. We'll put the rules in the cupboard and we'll look at them whenever we need to.'
Fires in Victoria, fires on Eyre Peninsula, fires all over the place teach us that there are no rules. We need an active standing committee in parliament to look at this matter year in and year out to see how we should be addressing it, how we should be dealing with it and how we should be trying proactively to avoid bushfires. I remember very well the day I moved into Wilmington, about 6½ years ago. There was a fire in the hills behind Wilmington (strongly suspected to have been started accidentally by tourists) in Horrocks Pass. It burnt out thousands of acres and killed thousands of stock in those hills.
The key issue there is that the people who were suspected of starting the fire were just not knowledgeable about the risks they were taking. They were driving through those hills and presumably smoking—no-one knows for sure. I am not having a go at the individuals, but the reality is that they just were not familiar with what is required; they just were not familiar with how easily bushfires can start; and they were not familiar with the devastation they could cause.
I believe that having a standing committee of the parliament to look into this matter on a regular basis is a very important issue to consider. I would say to the member for Little Para (who is making a statement on behalf of his government) that, if there was a fire in his electorate, at One Tree Hill or somewhere like that, he would consider this very differently. I support the member for Davenport's motion.