Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4854 minds to the need to prepare. Certainly, in the area of Emergency Services, preparation is a key factor in reducing risk to both property and lives, so I urge the residents of Palmerston to do what they can to secure their properties in terms of anything necessary around the yard, to get that down to their waste transfer station at Archer. I also encourage Palmerston City Council to reconsider. There are many organisations that I am sure the council could approach to help them with the issues of labour and the cleanup. There are some very community-minded organisations based in Palmerston which, I believe, would lend themselves to assist council with the cleanup. Irrespective, if the council does not organise a cleanup, then it is an issue that can be highlighted by local members in their newsletters encouraging people to clean up. As I said, as a survivor of Cyclone Tracy, I do not underestimate the critical importance of securing anything left around your yard. Sadly, we are seeing predictions of increasing threats of cyclones. There were some predictions a few weeks ago that we are potentially going to see a quite threatening cyclone season this year for the Top End. We all live with that threat. Coastal communities have been hit by significant cyclones in recent years. It has been heartening to see that buildings built to the existing Building Code standards withstood those cyclonic winds very well, and their integrity was sound. However, we know that in some communities there are some very old buildings that are not as capable of withstanding a cyclone. The importance of an urban focus on the cleanup is significant. The government has been cognisant of the fact that we need to work with our coastal communities to highlight the issue, teach people about preparedness and the safety of the newer buildings as compared to the older buildings, and have their cyclone plans prepared and ready to go in the event of a cyclone threat. The reality of living in this beautiful part of the world, with our great coastal communities and our tropical city of Darwin, is that we live with the threat of cyclones. That means that we are all responsible, each and every one of us, for playing our role in preparing for a cyclone, even if only in the normal role of ensuring you have your radio, batteries, water and household goods, and know what your own personal household plan is. Those of us who have lived in this tropical city for many years have personal plans prepared. There can be an improved emphasis in coastal communities about awareness of the steps that individuals can take to be prepared. I know the opportunity for a cleanup in the coastal communities is something that many local councils would entertain and encourage. It is an opportunity for a cleanup of the community. This bill really does focus everyones minds on the need to be prepared for cyclones and the critical issue of cleaning up prior to a cyclone. The potential to be prepared and clean up prior to a cyclone season exists now. It exists for the capital city of Darwin, but it equally exists for our coastal communities. They are all too aware of the impact of a cyclone. As I said, they have gone through significant cyclones in recent years. I am sure it would not take a whole lot of convincing in our coastal communities to look at a community effort of cleaning up in preparedness for the cyclone season we are about to enter. As a government, we take our responsibility very seriously. I commend the Minister for Employment, Education and Training for raising the need to work with industry groups to ensure that their members are aware of these changes and of their responsibility in preparation for cyclones. I can advise that I have had discussions with the TCA and HIA about the role they play as an industry group in providing information to their members. It will be good to see, once these amendments are passed, communication out to those industry groups to ensure that they put the information into their industry newsletters and their online advice to their members. There should be no excuse - no excuse whatsoever - for people taking on their responsibility, whether they are owners of a building under construction, contractors constructing that building, or subcontractors working to those contractors. There is no excuse for not being cognisant of their responsibility and preparedness for a cyclone. As I said, equally there is a responsibility on each of us as residents of a cyclone prone area to do what we can to undertake our own cleanup and have our own cyclone plans ready. The government is doing what it can to ensure that, in a legislative framework, in an Emergency Services response, in the processes of our various agencies with responsibilities, we are as prepared as possible. The government alone cannot do it. We need the community and industry groups to be prepared to work with us and do their part in preparing for cyclones as well. I commend the Chief Minister and her agency of Police, Fire and Emergency Services for being extremely focused on things that we can do within a legislative framework to ensure that we have the powers necessary to instruct people to undertake the work that they really should be undertaking without that instruction. It is very much a positive change that provides preparedness for our cyclone prone areas, as well as in flood prone areas.