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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11684

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) (3:31 PM) —Mr Speaker, I seek the indulgence of the chair to add to an answer.

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister may proceed.

Mr RUDD —The member for La Trobe asked a question which dealt with fire refuges at schools in his electorate. In asking the question, I would assume the member for La Trobe would be aware of a detailed letter from the Attorney-General going through this in two pages of length concerning the specific issues which he raised. It goes to serious concerns about refuges at schools, and I would draw to the House’s attention part of the content of the Attorney’s letter which says:

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recently released its interim report. In relation to the safety of schools during fires, the commission noted that:

Since 7 February, DEECD—

the department of education in Victoria—

has implemented significant policy changes:

  • a new procedure for school closures on TFB days and days of extreme fire risk
  • a safety audit of refuges in schools in the Eastern and Northern Metropolitan Regions
  • provision of the Bushfire Safety Checklist to children’s services.

The letter goes on to say:

With respect to the safety audit of the 35 refuges so far ordered, eight were assessed as totally unacceptable, seven were assessed as marginal and 20 were assessed as acceptable but with higher urgent priority rectification required in most cases. School principals have been provided with a copy of the report relating to the refuge at their school. The Victorian government is now in the process of costing the rectification works.

This letter then goes on for two pages in similar levels of specificity concerning refuges. I would think that in raising a question in the manner in which it was raised in this place, it would be useful to reflect on the specific information which the Attorney-General has provided in response to the honourable member on behalf of his constituents. I am sure that the Attorney-General will have a productive meeting with the member for La Trobe given that these concerns relating to bushfire affected areas are of genuine concern to all the members.