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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (3 March) . . Page.. 649..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Let me give members my view of the events. When I attended that meeting it was my intention to travel to Melbourne to watch the tennis that weekend. My partner and I were going to drive to Melbourne on the Friday and drive back on the following Monday. We had intended to turn off the phone while we were travelling in the car and to travel through Milawa, which would have afforded us a decent little break if we did not rush the trip. I recall being told at that briefing that the Monday would be a 40-year weather event.

I recall thinking that the bushfires might be worse on the Monday and that even though I had not been directed to return to Canberra on the Monday I, as minister, should be there. So I booked with Virgin airlines a couple of flights to Melbourne and back. I flew to Melbourne on the Friday with the intention of returning to Canberra on the Sunday after attending the tennis at the invitation of Tennis Australia. Because of subsequent events I specifically remember the tenor of the briefing that I received. At the briefing I was told that there was some concern about the bushfires.

As I said earlier, members would remember what occurred in 2001. In that year we celebrated the fact that we beat the bushfires. Even though the bushfires came close to the doors of the city, no property was lost. We thought we had done well. After the 2001 bushfires we conducted an inquiry, which recommended that Mr Wood and I should effect 70 or so changes. The best part of those changes was effected during the course of 2002.

As a result of the briefing I was aware that the following week would be pretty tough, but I knew I could relax over the weekend. I had booked a return flight to Canberra on the Sunday, but I returned on the Saturday night after I heard what was going on.

Housing-debt review committee

MS TUCKER: My question is to the minister for housing and is in regard to the proposed debt review committee. In a press release you issued on 18 November 2003, under the heading "Debt review committee established", you are quoted as saying:

The government will assist public housing tenants experiencing debt by establishing a Debt Review Committee that will review individual cases and advise on the waiving of debt, the allocation of debt between co-tenants, and the provision of enhanced support services.

In particular, the Debt Review Committee will allow Housing ACT to better respond to:

victims of domestic violence;

tenants and families with high and complex needs; and

vulnerable tenants who have incurred debt through the misbehaviour of others.

Minister, can you advise the Assembly if the guidelines for that committee are now available, how we can see them and how tenants can find out about the committee?

MR WOOD: Thank you, Ms Tucker. We took that necessary measure of trying to help tenants who find themselves in strife. For example, when someone has difficulty paying


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