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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1500..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I think it particularly important that we not rush to judgment; that we not seek to blame anybody or any organisation. In the fullness of time we will have a full report and response from the coroner on these issues, which will allow each of us a far better and deeper understanding of the events surrounding the fire.

On receipt of that report, the government will give full and detailed consideration to the report, its findings and any recommendations it may make. Each of us in this place will then obviously reflect on what should be the appropriate responses for us as individuals and for us as a government and a community.

MR SMYTH: I have a supplementary question. If the coroner comes down with adverse findings against the ACT government, will you resign?

MR SPEAKER: I think that was a hypothetical question Mr Smyth, so I will rule it out of order.

Commissioner for the Environment

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Environment, Mr Stanhope. On Tuesday in question time you said of the Commissioner for the Environment:

Dr Baker is a most esteemed Australian. It has been a privilege to work with him. The ACT has been privileged to have a person of Dr Baker's eminence as the Commissioner for the Environment for the last 10 years. We owe him an enormous debt for his contribution to ACT environmental reporting-not just in the ACT but also nationally. He has done an absolutely outstanding job.

Yet the very next day, according to the Canberra Times, you said:

Commissioner Baker's analysis is incredibly simplistic, and one of the concerns I have-

that is, you have-

about it is it does ignore the basic underlying tenet of sustainability, namely the need to balance the economy, our social needs with our environmental responsibility.

Why, only days after you labelled the Flora and Fauna Committee and the Natural Resource Management Committee as whingers, have you again decided to attack the credibility of one of your senior environment advisers who is also a member of your sustainability reference group?

MR STANHOPE: Dr Baker certainly is an outstanding Australian and has made an absolutely outstanding contribution to Australia in a broad range of areas and fields. I am privileged to have worked with Dr Baker over the last year as Minister for Environment. It has been a real privilege for me to work with him. I esteem him enormously as an environmentalist, as Commissioner for the Environment and as somebody with a heartfelt and genuine commitment to the ACT, to environmental reporting and to sustainability and, indeed, as somebody with an enormous commitment to Australia and to science based research and advocacy.


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