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Country Fire Service

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 14:43 :55 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Emergency Services a question regarding the Sampson Flat and Pinery bushfires.

Leave granted.

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN: Aerial firefighting is a vital part of bushfire suppression strategy, and approximately over three million litres of fire suppressant were dropped by the CFS water bombers over the Sampson Flat fires, with a similar amount also dropped over the more recent Pinery fires. My question is: how much, if any, of the South Australian-manufactured fire suppressant Blaze Tamer 380 was used on the Sampson Flat and Pinery fires during the aerial bombings?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 14:44 :48 ): I thank the honourable member for his important question. I had the great pleasure on the weekend of being shown around the Sampson Flat fireground and meeting firsthand with some of the people who were serving so effectively on the front line, putting out the Sampson Flat bushfire. I had the great pleasure of being shown around by a gentleman by the name of Roger, who was on the scene from the very moment that the first brigades were called to the front line of the Sampson Flat bushfire.

As we were shown around the Sampson Flat fireground, CFS representatives were able to explain to me exactly what it was that our front-line volunteers were confronting on that day. As part of that process, they were able to explain to me the extraordinary role that those people who fly aircraft that fulfil a critical role during a bushfire were able to perform, and just how critically useful their services were in respect of the Sampson Flat bushfire. Of course, that message has been repeated since then, with the Pinery response.

I am happy to take on notice the specific question that you ask about the retardant that is used by those various aircraft. I understand that there are complexities attached to the issue that you refer to. Of course, different people within our community will always have different views about the appropriateness of a particular piece of equipment or technology.

Of course, what we want to see in the CFS in South Australia is the CFS leadership, ably led by Greg Nettleton, using exactly what is appropriate in the context of all the variables that the CFS volunteers and professionals have to face on the front line with the unique circumstances of South Australian fires. We want them to be making appropriate decisions that are based primarily on the community safety of those people who are receiving the services of the CFS.

I am happy to take on notice the specific nature of your question, but this government remains absolutely committed to making sure that those people who are serving on the front line on the ground within the CFS, those volunteers, are ably assisted by professionals with quick response times with respect to aircraft. This is a government that has continued to increase the resources available to the CFS when it comes to aircraft serving on the front line, but I am happy to take the specific nature of your question on notice.

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