Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2874..
MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Urban Services, Mr Wood. On Tuesday of last week you advised the Assembly that you were provided with information from a variety of sources about the fight against the fires in January 2003. These sources included Mr Keady, Mr Castle and Mr Lucas-Smith from the Emergency Services Bureau through Justice and Community Safety and Mr Bartlett and Mr Thompson from ACT Forests through Urban Services. Minister, did your officials ensure that you were as well informed as possible about the progress of the fires in the period between 9 January and 17 January 2003? Did your officials ensure that you were advised promptly about significant developments in the fight against the fires at that stage?
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, I took it upon myself as much as anything to keep myself informed, especially by attending those morning briefings. I think, in pursuing this line of questioning, the opposition is overlooking and ignoring a very significant factor. No-one at any time anticipated two things-the speed at which that fire gathered momentum in the last hours and its level of intrusion, not to the city but into the city. I think you need to bear that in mind but I suppose you do not want to do so.
You talk about notifications and the like but that fire took off. If you go into what is now the record you will see that at a certain point it just exploded across the pine forests and into the suburbs. It is something that was entirely not anticipated.
MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. As the answer appears to be no, have you raised with your officials why they did not keep you properly informed about significant developments in the bushfires? What was the reason that they gave you?
Mr Quinlan: Don't you listen?
Ms MacDonald: Didn't you listen to his answer?
Mr Pratt: Ms MacDonald, he said no, they didn't keep him informed.
MR WOOD: I think the interjections are fair. You really do need to listen. I took it upon myself as my major responsibility to keep myself informed, and I did that.
MR CORNWELL: My question is to the Chief Minister. Last week, you outlined the process that the chief executive of your department followed in investigating the leak of the Vardon report. You said:
Directions were given to all officers within the ACT public service that may have had access to the report to give an explanation or undertaking in relation to the way in which they dealt with or handled the report or information in relation to it. As a result of that, there was no explanation provided by anybody identified as having had any contact with the report as to how information contained in the report might have been relayed to the Canberra Times or to any journalist.