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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 86..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I expect him to look at my actions as the responsible minister on the day. I am more than happy for him to do that and to look at the decisions and the steps I took on the day. I will seek further information and see whether I can be of more assistance, Ms Tucker.

MS TUCKER: To clarify, I am interested in finding out whether or not the submissions will be public. That is certainly an issue of interest.

MR STANHOPE: I cannot imagine why they would not be, unless somebody sought confidentiality. If somebody sought confidentiality, I have absolutely no doubt that Mr McLeod would respect that. But in the ordinary course of events I would expect submissions to be made public.

I need to reiterate that running parallel to this inquiry will be a coronial inquest. I have no doubt that the coronial inquest will run well into next year. I have no doubt that it will rack up a bill of at least $11/2 million. I have no doubt that it will involve detailed examination and cross-examination of hundreds of witnesses. As is the nature of these things, it will involve a full judicial, forensic process and procedure. I cannot imagine that there will be a single aspect of the fire or the deaths that will not be covered. It will include management of the fire.

The Australian Federal Police have a task force of 10 officers working full time on the collection and compilation of evidence for the coroner. The Director of Public Prosecutions is in the process of appointing senior counsel, assisting counsel and assisting investigators to assist the coroner in every aspect of the fire, its progression and its devastating impact on the people of Canberra. Those duel processes are running in parallel.

Bushfires

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Chief Minister. Can you explain to the Assembly the processes and procedures involved in declaring a state of emergency? In other words, how does the system work, and what happened on 18 January?

MR STANHOPE: Congratulations, Mr Stefaniak, on your appointment to the position of Deputy Leader of the Opposition. This is the first occasion I have been in the chamber when you have stood as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

A state of emergency is declared pursuant to subsection 20 (1) of the Emergency Management Act 1999. It provides:

Where the Chief Minister is satisfied that-

(a) an emergency has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur; and

(b) the emergency is, or would be, of such a scale, or of such a nature-

(i) as to constitute a significant danger to the health or safety of persons in the Territory, property in the Territory or the environment of the Territory; or

(ii) as to cause a significant disruption of essential services in the Territory;

the Chief Minister may, by writing, declare that a state of emergency exists.


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