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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 444..


MR STANHOPE: I do not know. Those were not matters for me. I was not the responsible minister, as everybody is aware. I did not organise the briefing. Indeed, I assume these are questions that the coroner would have pursued through her four-year and $10 million inquest. It does interest me that the opposition continue to cast aspersions on the way in which the coroner has obviously conducted the inquiry; that they remain dissatisfied. These are questions that were pursued by counsel assisting, Mr Lex Lasry, on behalf of the coroner, and to the extent that the Liberal Party remain dissatisfied with the coroner's conduct of the inquest those are matters that the Leader of the Opposition might wish to take up with the chief coroner.

Bushfires—coronial inquest

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Chief Minister. Last week you stated in relation to the special cabinet meeting on 16 January 2003 that Mr Castle and Mr Lucas-Smith did not give evidence to the coronial inquest that was consistent with the coroner's finding. Yet in evidence Mr Lucas-Smith said about that meeting:

I am painting a worst case scenario to the best of my ability.

Mr Lucas-Smith further said that there would be a potential serious impact for the suburban areas if things went wrong and that the cabinet was very interested in that potential serious impact. But he noted that the cabinet did not ask a great number of questions. In his statement to the coroner, Mr Castle said:

There was discussion as to the process of declaring a state of emergency. I went on to advise cabinet of the process involved in that eventuality. We offered advice on the potential risk to urban areas due to the extent of the fire front.

Chief Minister, why do you claim that cabinet was not warned about the potential serious impact on the urban area on 16 January, when it most certainly was?

MR STANHOPE: It was not. That is the sworn evidence of me, Mr Tim Keady, Mr Rob Tonkin, Mr Mike Castle and Mr Peter Lucas-Smith. That is the sworn evidence of two cabinet ministers through statutory declarations—Mr Bill Wood and Mr Ted Quinlan. It is a position which the other minister attending that meeting has put in this place.

Interestingly, for those who watched the excellent, objective and rigorous discussion of these issues on Four Corners last night on ABC television, it is the view of Mr Wayne West—and it is a view that is consistent with the statements by Mr Wayne West to Four Corners—that at no stage between the eighth and the 17th did he believe that the McIntyres Hut fire represented a problem. On Four Corners last night, during that quite rigorous analysis of issues that were faced by firefighters on that day, it was actually the view put by New South Wales Rural Fire Service personnel who were involved in the McIntyres Hut fire that they believe it was their actions on the 17th and 18th that ultimately led to the McIntyres Hut fire causing the destruction that it did.


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