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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 1 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 16..


I ask members to be mindful of this provision when debating today's motion.

Chief Minister

Motion of want of confidence

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra—Leader of the Opposition) (10.33): I move:

That this Assembly no longer has confidence in the Chief Minister, Mr Jon Stanhope, MLA, particularly in view of his and his Government's handling of the 2003 bushfires.

I seek leave of the Assembly to speak without limitation of time.

Leave granted.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, on 18 January 2003 we saw the most comprehensive failure of a government: the bumbling, the lack of a plan for dealing with the fires bearing down on Canberra's suburbs, the failure to adequately tell the police, the failure to coordinate the resources that were available, leaving fire crews idle while parts of Canberra burned, the glaring omission of the government to prepare the people of Canberra for what could happen, the lack of an evacuation plan, and inadequate and dangerous misinformation after the fires hit. Mr Speaker, that is the stuff of the Third World, not the capital of Australia.

I think it is appropriate, in leading this debate, to quote the words of another member of this place in a not dissimilar debate only a few short years ago. That member stated:

Mr Speaker, in many respects, my contribution to this most serious debate was written by the coroner, Mr Shane Madden, for it is Mr Madden who, in his report on the inquest into the death of Katie Bender, has so comprehensively damned the administration of the Government led by this Chief Minister. Mr Madden's scathing condemnation and the Chief Minister's failure to answer his criticisms responsibly have brought on this debate. One thing is sure, that is, that the systemic failings so clearly identified by the coroner and the Chief Minister's stubborn and arrogant refusal properly to accept responsibility for them demand a sanction that only this Assembly can deliver.

Mr Speaker, one has only to delete the name of the coroner and replace it with "Mrs Maria Doogan"and delete the words "inquest into the death of Katie Bender"and replace them with the words "inquests and inquiry into four deaths and four fires between 8 and 18 January 2003". And those prophetic words, spoken on Wednesday, 24 November 1999 by none other than Jon Stanhope, can now be equally and fully applied to him. Indeed, the matter we are debating here today involves a report far more damning of the Chief Minister and his government than Coroner Madden's report ever was in relation to the then Chief Minister, Kate Carnell. I quote again:

... the Chief Minister's stubborn and arrogant refusal properly to accept responsibility for them demand a sanction that only this Assembly can deliver.


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