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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (31 March) . . Page.. 1429..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

without knowing just how much has already been done in an industry. All I can say to Mr Smyth is: thousands of questions on notice and still you know nothing.

Bushfires-declaration of state of emergency

MR PRATT: My question is to the Chief Minister. Mr Stanhope, the coroner's inquest has heard that the secretary of the emergency management committee prepared a draft state of emergency declaration on Thursday 16 January 2003, or on the morning of Friday, 17 January 2003, for your signature because it was likely that you might have to sign such a document declaring a state of emergency. What information about the likely impact of bushfires prompted preparation of this document for your signature on those days?

MR STANHOPE: I have absolutely no idea

Bushfires-warnings

MR STEFANIAK: My question is also to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, Ms Marika Harvey has stated that she organised a meeting for 8 am on 18 January last year after hearing an alarming warning at the planning meeting the previous evening. The head of your department, Mr Tonkin, attended this meeting. Why do you expect us to believe that the head of your department attended a meeting on the early morning of the 18th to discuss evacuation of Duffy, Holder and Rivett without Mr Tonkin or anybody else telling you of the dire risk facing Canberra on the evening of the 17th or the morning of the 18th?

MR STANHOPE: I think the question that was asked was: why does he expect us to believe me"-I think that was the only question contained in the ramble. It is because it was true.

MR STEFANIAK: Chief Minister, why were the residents of Duffy, Rivett and Holder denied the opportunity of six hours to prepare for the fires given that your government discussed evacuating these suburbs at 8 am and they-the residents-were not told until 2 pm?

MR STANHOPE: These are issues, of course, that are being canvassed exhaustively in the coronial inquest. I think it appropriate that those issues be allowed to be explored through that process. I cannot answer the particular question the member asks. I think the only real answer that any of us will ever achieve to the particular question that is being posed-I know it is being posed by many residents of Canberra-will have to await the outcomes of the coronial inquest. I think it appropriate that that be the circumstance.

I have expressed this before and I will express it again now: I have grave concerns about the line of questioning the opposition is persisting with in relation to the coronial inquest. I think it is quite inappropriate. I think it is destructive. I think it is unhelpful that the opposition in this place is using this forum to provide some sort of re-run or commentary on the day-to-day evidence of the coronial inquest.

I believe-I know it is a matter of some judgment-that there is rarely, if ever, a circumstance in which the sub judice rule should not apply to the coronial inquest. It


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