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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 2440

Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. I ask: Can the Minister state how many days or weeks the current rocket firing program will continue at Woomera in South Australia? Is the Minister aware of the high fire risk to large areas of the country over which rockets are fired due to the well above average growth induced by the favourable season in this area? What steps are being taken to reduce or avoid the fire risk? Will the Minister or his Department have discussions with the respective property owners concerned regarding the current rocket firing program and the associated fire risk?

Senator WRIEDT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Primary Industry) - I understand that the firing programs from Woomera have been operating for 25 years and that during that time there has been a continuing liaison between the Department and the property owners in the area. It is customary for the firings to cease in the middle of December and not be resumed until 2 1 January of each year. The types of rockets which are prone to create fires are not used on fire ban days. When they are used it is customary for additional precautions to be taken. I understand that these are mainly the redirecting of the rockets into areas in which there is less possibility of a fire being caused. Additional fire fighting equipment and helicopters are also kept on standby. On the information available to me all reasonable precautions have been taken. As to the specific point that Senator Young raised concerning liaison with the property owners, it is my understanding that there has been such liaison over the years. I feel confident from my knowledge of the subject that this will continue.

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