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.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey