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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 1 Hansard (28 February) . . Page.. 91..


MR GENTLEMAN (continuing):

of government policies, they resign. However, individual ministerial responsibility does not require resignation. All that individual ministerial responsibility implies is that ministers behave with propriety and are answerable to parliament for policy matters. Jon Stanhope at no time has misled this Assembly. He has at all times behaved with integrity.

Under the Westminster convention a government must have the confidence of the lower house to retain office. The ultimate test of people's confidence in government is at the ballot box. Since the devastating firestorm of 2003, we have had an election. Labor was elected; it not only holds majority government but Jon Stanhope achieved the highest personal vote of any MLA. Clearly, the Canberra public prefer Jon Stanhope as their leader and have utter confidence in his ability to lead our capital territory with their best interests in mind. On this matter Canberrans have spoken. The Canberra community are behind Jon Stanhope. Clearly today we will see again that the Chief Minister retains the confidence of this house.

Mr Stanhope always acts with integrity and professionalism and genuinely cares for the citizens of Canberra whom he represents. The concern that the Chief Minister has for his fellow citizens is demonstrated by the fact that he risked his own life to rescue a helicopter pilot. This demonstration of bravery by the Chief Minister in the most catastrophic situation that faced Canberra confirms that Jon Stanhope is a man of compassion and concern for all people. At no time did the Chief Minister deliberately downplay or mislead the public about the seriousness of the fires.

I would like to highlight that the Stanhope government is committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of all Canberrans. In the four years since the terrible events of 18 January 2003, this government has done everything possible to review the causes of the disaster and to identify any and all deficiencies and omissions in the performance of our emergency service organisations. I declare my complete support for the way the Chief Minister handled the 2003 bushfires and I commend him on his bravery and hard work during the most difficult and distressing time in the territory's history.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (4.52): Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not be supporting this motion and I know that will not be a surprise to anyone. Quite frankly, I found Mr Stefaniak's calls for me and my backbench colleagues to cross the floor on this motion to be quite ludicrous.

The Chief Minister and the Attorney-General have already given excellent speeches on some of the flaws in some of the recommendations of the coroner's report. Dr Foskey and Ms Gallagher, as well as the Chief Minister and Attorney-General, made many pertinent points, and I thought their points on ministerial responsibility were particularly telling.

I will not repeat the many salient points made by others, but I will make two points to explain why I do not support this motion. Firstly, and most importantly, I believe this report has been devalued by its comments that step over the political line, comments that take a partisan view based on unsubstantiated matters. I think that is unfortunate, because the report contains a number of points and recommendations that the government has taken on board and agreed to. Of course, the government also agreed


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