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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4245..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

why you do not have that coronial process. We do not need one, actually. Obviously Mr Pratt has got a full grip on everything; he has got the explanation; he has just got to ask a couple more questions and it is finished really. We could have saved a lot of money. Obviously the rest of us do not actually agree with that. So I am looking forward to hearing how you will justify this appalling invasion of privacy.

It makes me think that maybe I could ask Mr Pratt: "You should put on the record here where you have been every night for the last three years, to explain your incompetence in this place." Maybe it's where you were.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (11.05): I will try not to speak for long, because to do so would in fact confer on this motion a dignity it does not warrant. I want to say just once that, because so much is said in this place in heat, so much florid language is used, we actually devalue that currency and it is difficult to communicate genuine disgust, but I would like to as best I can.

Earlier today I mentioned my observation that in more recent times I saw an opposition that had adopted an approach of constant repetition of particular claims and an apparent, if not actual, belief in the veracity of that claim, regardless of how spurious and unreliable the data was to support it. It just seems to have been a developed pattern. Of course my observation has never been more appropriate than in the case of this matter. To listen to Mr Pratt's speech, he became even more involved in it as time went by. The litany of accusations in that speech, all drawn from "Where was Mr Stanhope on the Friday evening?" is nothing short of amazing.

I want, for the sake of this debate, to repeat a perspective, starting on the Thursday before the bushfire. We had a briefing from relevant personnel in Emergency Services, and cabinet was advised that the Monday would be an extreme weather event. We had maps and whatever-and I cannot recall it being said-but maybe there might be an emergency declared on the Monday when this particular weather event occurred and Canberra was most exposed.

Remember, we were hearing this in the context of course of the 2001 fire, the Christmas 2001 fire, which also reached the edge of Canberra. It was handled very adequately. We lost a fair bit of forest, but we all celebrated and we all had some ceremonial celebration. You have got to remember this is before the event and not after. These questions have been asked. I have also got Hansard here, Mr Pratt, and you can sense this emboldening in the questions. There was a question from Mr Stefaniak back in March: "Why do you expect us to believe" blah, blah, blah in relation to this? In other words, "You are lying to us." From Mr Pratt: "You were warned that the urban edge faced significant threat of fires. You did absolutely nothing." He was not particularly warned of the firestorm that hit us, Mr Pratt; none of us was.

Mr Pratt said in his question on-let me give you the right date-1 July, "The call from Mr Castle was clearly a most important and urgent call." Who said? I will tell who said. He did. Nobody else. Then it culminates in a question to me. Somehow he got the idea that I was looking up phone records; I do not know why-but anyway. It mentions the Chief Minister's failure to respond to critical phone calls. If that ain't embroidering, I do not know what is. And that sort of embroidering is downright dishonest.


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