Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 2299..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
when he was the minister, have not been found to have failed in our responsibilities at all through this process. There is comment on that in Vardon. It might be interesting for you to re-read that.
I am quite surprised at the opposition simply wanting a witch-hunt; they didn't want scapegoats initially because they wanted ministers' heads but, when it was clear that ministers hadn't done anything improper, then it was someone else's head that had to go.
I have been through this at length at the Estimates Committee. I extended this opportunity to the shadow minister at the time: if you can read Vardon and find one single person whose head should have been on the chopping block for this situation, then I would be interested to hear how you came to that decision. Not one comment back. If you read that report-
Mrs Burke: They didn't break the law; they weren't negligent.
MS GALLAGHER: It is not simply breaking the law; there is a whole range of reasons that led up to the failure to meet statutory obligation 162(2). The opposition is just sitting here wanting a head to roll. That's about the only thing they can get out of this. They can't cope with the fact that this government is fixing it and this government is putting in resources to ensure that this is an adequately resourced area of government. We are actually supporting staff; we are improving the service; and we will not stop until we have the best child protection system in the country. All you can worry about is who should be sacked because of this awful situation.
If there were to be anyone sacked, there is a whole range of people who could have been sacked because of this, including every minister who had responsibilities-including the Chief Minister, the Treasurer and the minister for youth and family services in the previous government-that led to the situation of this portfolio area being so underresourced that it could not meet an obligation-one of its 71 obligations, that is, 162(2).
MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the Minister for Urban Services, Mr Wood. On 10 January 2003, Alan Thompson spoke to Mike Castle about the concerns raised by the head of ACT Forests that NSW was not doing enough to control the McIntyres Hut fire. He saw the dangers of that fire getting into the Uriarra pine forest with a north-west wind and, if that happened, it was unlikely that it would stop before it reached Canberra. Mr Thompson spoke to Mr Castle to pass on his serious concerns about this fire. At the time, Mr Castle was on his way to brief you about the serious threat facing the ACT from the fires.
I ask the minister: what did Mr Castle advise you when he gave you a special briefing on 10 January 2003 about the fires? When did Mr Thompson advise you, Minister, of the serious concerns that he and Mr Bartlett held about the potential impact of the McIntyres Hut fire on the ACT's pine forests, and probably on urban Canberra?
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, in all that period, from the day after the fires were ignited until, of course, that fateful Saturday, I went across to the Emergency Services Bureau