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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 2 Hansard (3 March) . . Page.. 652..


MR PRATT (continuing):

direction to ensure that the Canberra community was explicitly warned of the imminent and very clear danger?

MR WOOD: Let's talk about the use of the word "imminent". We all checked our memory, because we did not take notes and I did not take a camera in to record it, but at the time of that briefing there were, from memory, three discrete fires. They were 20 or 25 kilometres away-I am not sure of the distances. They were a long way away. That was on the Thursday. The fires were a long way away, distant from the ACT.

There were troublesome weather conditions, but at that stage the weather had not been rough and the weather forecast, as I remember and as Mr Quinlan said, was that Monday was to be the bad day. That was the picture we had. The fire was a long way away. I think that two of the fires might have merged by that time and become the stockyard fire. I think that they merged at about that time. But there were still three fire areas, and they were a long way distant.

My colleague has explained the circumstances about the state of emergency. It is consistent with my memory that there was talk about the powerlines and the problem about those powerlines. So, put it into perspective. And then there was another perspective. Nowhere at any time did I-and I do not think anybody else did anywhere, not even the later experts-contemplate the holocaust that would descend on Canberra. Nowhere was that in mind. If we were talking about fires approaching the city, it was a fire of the order that came through in 2001. So, put it into perspective as to the briefings that were given earlier and as to the, I would think, unimaginable result on that Saturday.

MR PRATT: I have a supplementary question. Minister, given the bushfire threat intelligence available on 16 and 17 January 2003, why did you not put in place clearly published contingency plans, including evacuation of the most vulnerable residents in vulnerable suburbs, including Weston and Duffy, as per that briefing?

Mr Corbell: Hindsight is a wonderful tool, isn't it?

MR WOOD: Yes, hindsight is great. I think that members opposite ought to adjust their prepared supplementary questions in the context of the way that the first part of their questions has been answered. You never adjusted your supplementary question, Mr Pratt; so I really have nothing more to say.

Child protection

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, Ms Gallagher. Minister, thank you for providing me with the documents that I requested under FOI.

Ms Gallagher: I didn't; the department did.

MRS BURKE: I specifically refer to the brief that the chief executive provided to you, advising that the department had not met its statutory obligations regarding advising the Community Advocate. I would remind you, Minister, also that you did undertake to get back to the Assembly with the time that that faxed brief reached your office. You have not done so yet. There is a curious feature to this brief. The date that you signed the brief


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