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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4247..


MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Like Mr Stanhope, I have never met Phil Cheney and I do not know him. But where was he? Is he also a member of the 20/20 hindsight club that seems to embrace you lot? But I will close by repeating: your argument does not stand up in logic.

MR STEFANIAK (11.16): Mr Pratt's motion is quite simple really. He wants the Assembly to note community concern about the lack of warning given to the Canberra community by the ACT government about the January 2003 bushfires. Yes, I think blind Freddy could tell you there is community concern about that. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to appreciate that. So we know that.

He then calls upon the Chief Minister to inform the Assembly by close of business tonight exactly where he was on the evening of 17 January and why he was not able to take telephone calls. That is not rocket science either. Really the Chief Minister has actually brought this on himself by his amazing obfuscation-I think that is the word-in just not answering a very simple question. I do not think it has got anything to do with private life or anything like that. It would be very simple for him to just tell, okay, where he was; it could have been a family function; it could have been anything. He could have been home watching the news or something, but why be so secretive about it? Can't he remember? Has he got something to hide? Why not just actually come out and say it? I really cannot see the problem in that.

It is most valid for Mr Pratt to also ask why he was unable to take telephone calls. The events of 18 January were the most calamitous events in the ACT's history. It is actually of great concern to the ACT. The opposition must in fact do its job in terms of trying to get to the bottom of exactly what happened. We all need to see what we can actually do to improve on it.

Yes, there is a coronial inquest occurring. But these are simple questions that have not been answered by the government. I am at some loss to imagine why. The Chief Minister is off on a tangent talking about privacy or anything like that. He talks about the role of the coronial inquiry. If it is all the role of the coronial inquiry to ask these questions, one must actually ask the question: has the Chief Minister told the coronial inquiry where he was on 17 January and, if you do not want to tell us where you were, why don't you go and tell the coroner? The coroner after all has actually invited the Chief Minister and, I think, several other senior officials to come back and give more evidence to her in relation to the matters raised. If you are not going to tell us, why not got and tell the coroner. That is fine.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Stefaniak, you are now trying to coerce members into taking a particular position with the coroner. All I can do is discourage you from doing that. It is entirely up to you, but I think both of us know that that is going a bit beyond the pale.

MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do merely pose those questions. I thank you for your comments.

There is nothing earth shattering in what Mr Pratt is actually moving here. It is of great concern to the community-the lack of warning. What he is calling on the Chief Minister to do is really something that I would think is quite reasonable. The Chief Minister has really brought it on himself in the way that he has answered questions in this place-


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