Ms KATE WASHINGTON (Port Stephens) (14:44:30): My question is directed to Minister for Energy and Environment. Does the Minister agree with the Deputy Premier, who said just now that his department has not done enough hazard reduction burning?
Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Minister for Energy and Environment) (14:44:48): I thank the member for Port Stephens and shadow Minister for her question. We are still facing a very serious situation with these bushfires. We are not out of the woods yet. There are still men and women on the frontline, including National Parks and Wildlife Service staff who are risking their lives to keep the rest of us safe. Today is not the day to do post-mortems or look for learnings about what could be done better in the future. When that day comes the National Parks and Wildlife Service will be fully involved in the process. We will take any opportunity to find out what learnings we can take on board to do things better in the future.
But I want to place the facts on the record again. The reality is that in the past five years 85 per cent of all fires that started on parks have stayed on parks. That is a credit to the incredibly dedicated and hardworking professionals in the National Parks and Wildlife Service, who put themselves in harm's way to protect not only our environment but also people and property. That is a great credit to the outstanding men and women of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The reality is that we have a five-year rolling target for hazard reduction that says that over five years we should do hazard reduction burns on 135,000 hectares on average. Last year not only did we meet that target but also exceeded it. We burnt 137,000 hectares off national parks. That is what happens. I pay credit to the amazing men and women in the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Ms Jodi McKay: Point of order: My point of order relates to Standing Order 129. The question was very specific. It is about the Deputy Premier saying that the Minister for Energy and Environment's department is not doing enough. Does the Minister agree that his department is not doing enough?
Mr John Barilaro: I said it's Bob Carr's legacy.
Ms Jodi McKay: No, you did not say that.
The SPEAKER: The Minister is being relevant and will continue.
Mr MATT KEAN: I am incredibly proud of the brave men and women in the National Parks and Wildlife Service who are out fighting fires that did not start on national parks and that are not currently burning on national parks. They are putting themselves in harm's way to protect people and property across this State. That is something we should all be very proud of. As I said earlier, if there are learnings from this bushfire that we and the National Parks and Wildlife Service need to take on board, I—as the Minister for Energy and Environment—will be the first one to stick up my hand to ask what we can do better in the future to protect not only our environment but also our communities. That is something I am very proud of.
But I am not going to allow the National Parks and Wildlife Service to be made a scapegoat in this bushfire season. I will not let that happen. We have to make sure that we take the politics out of it. There will be plenty of time to play politics and there will be plenty of time to look at what could be done better after the danger period has passed. We are not at that stage yet. Currently there are men and women on the frontline and there are families still living with the threat of bushfire on their doorstep. I am not here to play politics today. I am here to defend the outstanding work of the Nationals Parks and Wildlife Service staff—the 400 men and women on the frontline at the moment who are defending properties, people and the environment. They do not do that only in bushfire season; they do it every day of the week.
Our nationals parks network is absolutely incredible. It is one of the things that makes this State so great. We are not only going to protect what we have but also expand what we have. That is good not only for the environment but also the community. People love our national parks. We need to ensure that we are providing not only great national parks but also a great visitor experience. That is why we are investing a lot of money. I will get some information on the table. As I said, in addition to having 1,226 firefighters on the frontline—which is up by 176 from when we came to government in 2011—we also have five aircrafts and 355 firefighting vehicles to help fight fires. The Government is committed to investing millions of dollars to upgrade our fire trails so we can do things better in the future, which is exactly what I intend to do.
The SPEAKER: I recognise the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Nuatali Nelmes, who is in the public gallery as the guest of the member for Campbelltown. I call the member for Kiama to order for the first time.