Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 276..
Mr Stefaniak: Meaning they tried to contact you.
MR STANHOPE: Through the cabinet meeting of Thursday. Here we have the Leader of the Opposition saying, "Oh, they were trying to contact you"—a six-second call at 7.14, which was not repeated. A six-second call at 7.14, not taken and not repeated! No call to my chief of staff. No call to my media adviser. No call to anybody in my office. No call to the head of the Chief Minister's Department. All of a sudden, this is some dereliction! A single call that was not taken represents drastic or dramatic attempts to contact me! What a nonsense.
MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, why didn't you check the message bank on that evening—or the following morning—to see if you had missed any calls?
MR STANHOPE: I presume I did.
MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister. On 16 January 2003, cabinet was briefed by senior officers of the Emergency Services Bureau on the status of the bushfires that were burning in the Brindabellas. When Mr Quinlan was asked in the Assembly on 3 March 2004 about his understanding of the severity of the bushfires, as opposed to what was disclosed at that briefing, he said:
... I was aware that the following week would be pretty tough, but I knew I could relax over the weekend.
Was this the same rationale on which you based your decision to make yourself incommunicado on the Friday night?
MR STANHOPE: For the sake of his drastically or dramatically wounded pride, reputation and honour—an honour that will never, ever be restored or recovered—Mr Smyth had to stand up today to show us how brave he was and ask another question on the same subject because he is tough and brave; he has got broad shoulders, as we heard this morning. For the sake of his completely tattered reputation and honour, which no longer exist, the question had to be asked. It is interesting on this question of honour that there is a whole range of stories on the fire that will probably never be told and that perhaps should be told and not lost to the distance of time.
I recall, in fact, the long afternoon and evening of the 17th and that late in the night, after a most horrifying and traumatic day for everybody concerned, the Emergency Services Bureau central staff had spent the day at some distance from the fire. It is an interesting experience to be that far from an emerging and then palpable disaster and not be able to see it and not be at the front. We spent the entire day in that circumstance.
The point I make is that during that entire time we had no contact with fire fighters, either urban or rural; they were out fighting the fire, except that later in the evening,