Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4140..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
seen a fax, I answered that correctly. The story has been evolving because it has been dribbled out by the opposition bit by bit over the last two weeks and I have answered every question honestly and truthfully. I certainly take my responsibilities to tell the truth and not mislead the Assembly very seriously.
MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Chief Minister. I note that yesterday the Chief Minister presided at a ceremony at which the first ACT emergency medals were awarded. Can the Chief Minister tell the Assembly what the awards were for and who received them?
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves. Yesterday I was very pleased and proud to preside at a ceremony to award the first emergency service medals and the first lapel pins to those Canberrans who were very much part of the fantastic response by this community to the devastating fires of January 2003.
It has often been suggested-and of course it is true-that January 18 can quite rightly be regarded as perhaps the worst day that the ACT and the people of the ACT have experienced. There is no doubt that we would all agree that it was one of the worst days in the history of the territory. Of course, as we have often reflected and appropriately reflected, it was also a day that brought out the best in Canberra, the best in our community and the best in many individuals.
The bushfire was very tragic; it caused the death of four of our citizens. We know that it destroyed in the order of 500 homes, injured significant numbers of Canberrans and caused enormous other damage to our infrastructure and to our environment. But the response was fantastic. The way in which, particularly, our uniformed services, our volunteers and members of the ACT public service and community-based organisations responded at the time of the fire-on January 18 and its aftermath-was simply inspirational, and is something from which we can still take inspiration and from which we continue to grasp strength.
As a response and as a continuation of the government's determination to ensure that we recover to the extent that we can-in some respects, some individuals, of course, will strive with a range of issues that impact on them personally; the community will bear scars for years to come, as will the environment and, indeed, the territory-the government has responded well to that. I have spoken at length about the efforts the ACT government has made to ensure that we do, to the extent that we can, grow, prosper and develop a living and continuing legacy in our recovery from the fire. A significant part of that was the ceremony and the awarding of medals, the acknowledgement of individual effort on the day: the selfless, the brave and the courageous efforts of so many Canberrans.
It was the consequence of the desire of my government, on behalf of the Assembly and on behalf of the Canberra community, to acknowledge that courage, to express our gratitude, that we issued over 21/2 thousand medals and a significant number of lapel pins to ensure that each of those members of our uniformed organisations-the fire brigade, the ambulance service, the SES, ACT Policing and the ACT Rural Fire Service-are appropriately and individually recognised and acknowledged. The medals and the lapel