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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 162..


MR CORNWELL: I ask a supplementary question. Will any additional and extraordinary expenses suffered by any of these schools as a result of the bushfires not be made a charge on the schools' operating budgets. Schools may have had to remain open for longer periods. Phillip College was being attended by people to get clothing, food and such like. The schools are concerned that additional and extraordinary expenses not be made a charge upon their operating budgets. Can you give that assurance, Minister?

MS GALLAGHER: Those costs associated with the evacuation and recovery centres we will seek to recover through the emergency management plan from any additional funding we get from Treasury.

I need to be careful here, because I think there are other costs we might not have looked at. Canberra College, apparently, is storing equipment in its gymnasium. Stromlo is going to make some of its rooms available for community groups that have lost the use of Holder High. I am not sure how that is going to be managed. I will need to get some advice on that and get back to you.

Bushfires

MR PRATT: My question is to the Chief Minister. The AM program on ABC Radio has reported that New South Wales fire authorities provided an open-ended offer of assistance to the ACT on the Wednesday before the fires, yet only four task forces were requested. AM further reported that a number of New South Wales crews offered assistance, only to be told that they were not needed. Chief Minister, can you confirm or deny these reports and advise us why AM would have us believe that senior emergency services personnel from both the ACT and New South Wales knew on Wednesday, 15 January that a disaster was imminent and more assistance was not requested from New South Wales fire crews?

MR STANHOPE: Yes, AM did run some reports this morning from faceless, nameless, anonymous confidential sources. One of the things that have always intrigued me a little bit about the media and journalists is that, if somebody has not got the guts to stand up and say who they are, they are a confidential source. In politics, we are more inclined to call them gutless wonders. The ABC this morning used "confidential sources", saying confidential sources suggest that certain offers of assistance were made and rejected.

I think that the subliminal suggestion on the ABC this morning was that these confidential sources were, of course, members of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. So moved by that suggestion was Phil Koperberg, the head of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, that in conversation this morning with the head of the department of justice he denied categorically that he had any information on the ACT rejecting any offers of assistance, so that is what Phil Koperberg thinks about AM.

I can tell you what I think about it. I think that the AM program this morning was the most outrageous piece of journalism. The ABC, the national broadcaster, in AM is now using in a scurrilous attack on the heads of ACT emergency services anonymous, confidential, faceless, nameless sources who, in the words of Phil Koperberg, aren't telling the truth.

Ms Gallagher: Like crikey.dot.com.


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