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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (14 March) . . Page.. 527..


MRS BURKE: My question is also to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, on the night of 17 January 2003 officials from the Chief Minister's Department and other agencies were contacting as many rural lessees as possible to warn them of the threat of the bushfires. In the light of that, why wasn't your government taking action to also warn the people of the forestry settlements, Weston Creek, Kambah and Dunlop on the evening of 17 January so that they too could prepare for the bushfires?

MR STANHOPE: These matters have been the subject of an inquiry by the coroner over a period of four years at a cost of $10 million. They are, of course, operational issues and it is interesting in the context of the debate we had this morning about the Emergency Services Authority and the relationship between government and a statutory independent Emergency Services Authority. The position of the Liberal Party in relation to this matter of the relative responsibility of firefighting officials, those with operational responsibility and others, of course is reversed depending on the particular position or the way in which the wind is blowing at the time the opposition perhaps wish to pursue an issue. This morning it was all about the need for statutory independence and those charged with functional responsibility to have statutory independence; this afternoon, of course, it is all about "let's not insist that those with statutory independence or operational authority have that independence".

Mrs Burke: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order under standing order 118A, on relevance. Please can you answer the question?

MR STANHOPE: I had concluded my answer, Mr Speaker.

MRS BURKE: Then I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I thank the Chief Minister for nothing. In light of these warnings to the rural lessees, what arrangements was your government making to prepare evacuation centres on 17 January and the morning of 18 January? And don't tell me they are in the report either—your answer, thank you.

MR STANHOPE: In a four-year coronial inquest, at a cost of $10 million, these issues were fully agitated. I refer the member to the transcript.

Skilled labour shortage

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope, in his role as Minister for Business and Economic Development. Would the minister advise the house of actions being taken by the ACT government to address the local effects of the national skills crisis?

MR STANHOPE: I am very happy to do that. It is a very important question and I thank the member for her interest in a matter of significant interest and importance to the community that goes to an issue of policy. I think it has to be said—and of course it is something that has been noted and commented on by I think almost the whole of Canberra, particularly in recent times—that one of the most significant steps that this government has taken in recent years to enhance skills and to ensure that there are

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