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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3135..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

This is a very important piece of legislation. The initial advice I have received in relation to it, from the point of view of my officials, is that the legislation essentially works quite well. I am quite happy with the process; I am happy to see whether we can refine it; and I am happy for those who seek to utilise public interest disclosure legislation to have an opportunity to participate in the process. I am happy to be very open about how we take it from here. The legislation is in place; it is operating and I am happy, in conjunction with that, to run a process. I don't think there is any urgency around it. I would be more than happy, for instance, to release an exposure draft and invite further comments on that, once we get to that stage.

Bushfires-warnings

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question without notice is to the minister for emergency services and Minister for Urban Services, Mr Wood. On Tuesday, Mr Wood, in response to a question from me you said:

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 Bartlett, the head of ACT Forests, has given evidence to the coroner's inquest that he warned the head of the Department of Urban Services that, if the McIntyre's hut fire got into the pine forests with a north-westerly wind, it would reach the suburbs of Canberra. Mr Thompson has confirmed in his evidence that Mr Bartlett advised him that if the fires got into the pine forests the consequences would be very serious. The meeting between Mr Thompson and Mr Bartlett occurred on 10 January, eight days before the inferno hit Canberra.

Minister, when did Mr Thompson and Mr Bartlett warn you of the very serious consequences of the McIntyre's hut fire getting into the pine forests, given that they had come to that conclusion eight days before the McIntyre's hut fire exploded into Duffy?

MR WOOD: Mr Pratt and others continue to ask these questions that are properly the province of the coroner who is exploring all these issues in the most minute of detail-and fairly so.

Mr Pratt made another statement, and I want to go back and repeat what I said the other day: yes, certainly the fire might reach the pine forests; it had the potential to do that and had the potential to reach Canberra. I repeat: nowhere did I ever pick up any notion that it would reach into the city and certainly into the city in the way that it did. I am repeating myself; you're repeating yourself.

I was part of the general discussions. I was there every morning. You know that. The extent of the knowledge of those discussions, which was comprehensive, is what I and others paid attention to.

MR PRATT: Mr Wood, you say that they didn't warn you. Why didn't they warn you, given that they understood the consequences of the McIntyre's hut fire getting into the pine forests eight days before the fires hit? Why not?


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