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A Pratt’s fuss over fences

Kerces 6 February 2006 15

Another “real” Canberra mention in Crikey today with Christian Kerr getting stuck into our own MLA Steve Pratt over a letter sent to residents warning their houses are in danger of burning down.

Any RA readers get such a letter and like to fill us in on their thoughts?

13. A right Pratt?

Christian Kerr writes:

ACT Liberal MLA Steve Pratt has upset a number of his constituents with a letter suggesting their houses are in danger of burning down – a great way of marking the anniversary of Canberra’s disastrous 2003 fires.

“I am writing to you to inform you that I believe that the grassland bush fire threat in your suburb is quite serious and I am concerned that this problem is replicated in many places right along the urban/bush interface,” he says in a letter to residents of the outer suburb of Kambah.

“As the Shadow Emergency Services Minister for the ACT Opposition I have been calling on the ACT Government since early November to tackle the inevitable grass bushfire fuel load problem arising after the very good late winter/spring rains,” he continues – before adding “I acknowledge that this year we are better prepared for bushfire than we have been for some years. A lot of good work has been done in cutting back grass in many years but I believe there are also many dangerous pockets of long grass in areas vulnerable to bushfire and regrettably, I believe, your suburban / bush edge is one of these.”

Few of his fellow MHA seem keen on following his lead. Many are aghast – and see the letter as further evidence of distressingly, er, idiosyncratic behaviour on Pratt’s part.

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15 Responses to A Pratt’s fuss over fences
colsim colsim 9:32 am 08 Feb 06

But I agree with the rest of it 🙂

colsim colsim 9:30 am 08 Feb 06

Sorry Big Al but I’m having a pedantic one.

Geographic schmeographic – isn’t the centre of a city (the one referred to by signs on a highway that say Canberra 252) considered the GPO?. By that definition, I’d say Kambah would be outer.

Big Al Big Al 8:46 am 07 Feb 06

Firstly, let me raise an objection to the term ” …the outer suburb of Kambah” Woden is the cities geographic centre, and besides, from my Kambah balcony you can see a hell of a lot of suburban sprawl stretching south from where I live. Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me say that so far Urban Services (or whoever is responsible for keeping grass down) has done a great job out our way. The guys regularly come and slash the grass behind our place and along the laneway next to us (probably three or four times since the start of spring last year). If I was still concerned about fuel loads then the responsibility to do something about it should be entirely mine.

I think that the Pratt has just lost touch with reality – being in opposition is a doddle really – spending your days churning out coulda, shoulda, woulda press releases in the full knowledge that your not actually expected to live up to any of it. I bet those fundamentalist pricks that held him hostage released him ‘cause they just couldn’t stand the prick any longer.

Thumper Thumper 8:34 am 07 Feb 06


it already did happen again.

Yarralumbla, a few houses lost to a simple grass fire only a month or so ago.

seepi seepi 8:18 am 07 Feb 06

I livede in Melbourne after Ash Wednesday, and the govt put a real effort into public education. I still remember the ads on tv about what to do if you were caught in a fire in your car, the value of wrapping in wool blankets, and staying in your house while the fire passes over, then running out to the most burnt patch of ground (if you can’t get out earlier).
The ACT govt has been a bit slack I think. Perhaps if they’d thrown resources at fire fighting/SES and grass maintenance in the years since the fires people wouldn’t be SO angry about the failures in the lead-up to the fires. they will look really stupid if any sort of suburban fire happens again.

Thumper Thumper 7:57 am 07 Feb 06

Is it me, or is Pratt becoming irrelevant and/or polarised in his increasingly narrow minded ideaology?

I do agree that the ACT government should be more proactive in removing the threat of grass fires. Believe me, the grass behind Duffy and Chapman is thick as mangroves and about six feet high. It would take one spark to set it off and we’d end up with a few more houses getting toasted.

However, why, if you were in that situation, would you not simply get out there yourself and hack it down to a managable level. Better to be safe than to rely on a government funded mower.

colsim colsim 7:17 pm 06 Feb 06

Wouldn’t they be Yimby C***s ssanta? 🙂

seepi seepi 5:44 pm 06 Feb 06

If id’ been his Pr adviser I would have suggested he actually put something positive or proactive in the letter as well – eg 5 tips for residents on better fences/how far to mow if you’re doing it yourself, a number to call if their grass is really high etc. I don’t think this stunt will earn many votes, cos it isn’t offering the residents anything, just scaring them, and he openly admits he hasn’t been able to do anything about the problem.

bonfire bonfire 4:42 pm 06 Feb 06

i can see his point. until urban infill occurred i had never mown fields in front of my place. grass regularly grew and was NEVER mown.

i called urban services and was fobbed off. wrote a letter and was fobbed off.

one day a guy was delivering something and said ‘i used to live around here when i was a kid, we used to come down and light fires over there’.

i wish id known who the bloke with the urban cowherd i see around lake ginninderra was, i would have encouraged him to drove his herd my way.

ssanta ssanta 4:27 pm 06 Feb 06


Sprayseed. No mower required!

Swaggie Swaggie 3:40 pm 06 Feb 06

Pratt lost the plot months ago. If he’s so concerned I’m sure he could put his time to better use by getting out and doing some mowing himself on behalf of his constituents.

ssanta ssanta 3:36 pm 06 Feb 06


I have a few of those sunflowers in my gutters. Thankyou mr plastic bird feedering NIMBY C**t.

Jazz Jazz 3:34 pm 06 Feb 06

nope, no letter. but then apparently i got a letter from the AFP wanring me about the guy who has been getting around sexually assaulting people.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 3:33 pm 06 Feb 06

fear mongering – well it worked for J.W. Howard..

love seeing libs get a bashing!!!

Maelinar Maelinar 3:33 pm 06 Feb 06

I agree (even though I didn’t get the letter).

The bushfire load extends beyond keeping the lawn tidy along anzac parade, those amazing men in their intrepid lawn mowing machines need to roam farther afield, and more regularly, in their search for the unmown verge.

To highlight the issue, I generally see the lawns being mown along the front of the AFP in Weston Creek around about 3 times a month, the only reason I have actually noticed is because of the frequency of their appearance, and how out of sequence it looks with the rest of the area.

Up closer to home, there was a fully grown sunflower (the 6ft variety) growing out of one of the gutters recently.

More funding into keeping the lawnmowing machines running, or even better still, more lawnmowing machines on the ground instead of wasteful spending into non-existant busways or other such coverups.

Perhaps in addition, they could publish a ecologically friendly, greenies endorsed pruning guide for landholders, instead of wasting our time with some of the other things that have appeared in my mailbox recently.

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