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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 1839..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

before ESA did. That was all under the direct control of a minister—at that time Mr Wood, followed by Mr Hargreaves.

You cannot ignore this. This government started a process. Even before the McLeod report was released in August 2003, the government had identified the failings of the communication system on the day—and, to their credit, started a process. In the 2003-04 budget, before the ESA existed—which you helped to approve, Mr Corbell, through a cabinet process for which you must take responsibility, along with the then Treasurer, the Chief Minister and the other ministers—the decisions were made to allocate this money to the then Emergency Services Bureau inside JACS, a government department. The statutory authority did not exist at that time, and you know it, Mr Corbell. You know it as a fact and you ignore it.

MR SPEAKER: Direct your comments through the chair, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Mr Corbell knows it is a fact, and Mr Corbell simply chooses to ignore it. The minister has gone on to allow Mr Manson to blame the volunteers for not being up to using this sophisticated piece of equipment. We blame the users, the volunteers. I can tell you that in my brigade I have got a guy that actually sells these systems; he actually sells land data systems all around the country. The problem is that the government started this process, the government ran this process and we had a string of ministers, including Mr Corbell, telling this place—indeed, one could say misleading this place—that the system worked.

Mr Corbell: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Withdraw that, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: I withdraw the comment, Mr Speaker. But let us look at it. Here is Mr Corbell saying, in answer to a question, on 19 October:

As I have just indicated, it is working. It has ... been working comprehensively for at least the past month.

It does not just work, Mr Speaker; it works comprehensively. He went on:

That is very pleasing. I look forward to that continuing in the future.

A little bit of irony in his voice there no doubt! If it is working, and if it is working comprehensively, why get rid of it?

Let me quote the ministerial code of conduct for Mr Corbell's benefit:

Ministers should take reasonable steps to ensure the factual content of statements they make in the Assembly are soundly based and that they correct any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.

The earliest opportunity was yesterday. Mr Corbell has not come into the Assembly and explained his inadvertent error, so obviously it was not inadvertent: when Mr Corbell told the Assembly that it was working and it was working comprehensively, it was the truth.


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