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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 875..


The fire brigade email, which was read to members last Thursday by Ms Tucker, advises recipients of Superintendent Kent's liaison role and of the material the investigators are seeking from the brigade. He also said that he would be the only conduit for the provision of material on behalf of the brigade to the investigation team. That is an entirely appropriate arrangement, made at the request of AFP investigators and intended to assist the coroner.

There is nothing sinister in this. The fire brigade as an entity has a legal responsibility to assist the coronial process. It also has an organisational obligation to prepare itself to make submissions to, and respond to issues raised, by the McLeod and coronial inquiries. The magnitude and complexity of these tasks should not be underestimated. I am advised that more than 10,000 government documents have already been identified as relevant to the inquest, with the collation process only partly completed. The lengthy process of preparing detailed statements has only just commenced.

Both inquiries have advertised for submissions direct from interested members of the public, and if any firefighter wishes to make a personal submission, he or she is free to do so. However, quite separately from their freedom to convey personal opinions to these inquiries, members of the fire brigade are duty bound to assist that brigade to discharge its legal and other obligations to the coroner and to the McLeod inquiry. The email is relevant only to the brigade's formal obligations.

Other than Ms Tucker's question, I am not aware of any concern arising from that email. For most of last week the Acting Fire Commissioner and senior departmental staff were in negotiations with the firefighters union over an enterprise agreement. The union officials present did not mention any concerns about the email, and they are not people who would be described as shy or easily intimidated. However, for the sake of prudence, the Acting Fire Commissioner issued on 7 March last a minute to all staff which refers to Superintendent Kent's email, and which in part says, and I quote:

This internal ACT Fire Brigade protocol does not limit in any way the individual rights of staff to make submissions to the Coroner, but it is designed to provide one focal point for the Coroner when formally requesting information from brigade staff.

Mr Speaker, there is never any wish to prevent access to the two bushfire inquiries and the commitment that the fire brigade members are free to make personal approaches to either stands unequivocally.

Papers

Auditor-General's report No 2

Mr Speaker

presented the following paper:

Auditor-General Act - Auditor-General's Report - No. 2 of 2003 - Belconnen Indoor Aquatic Leisure Centre, dated 11 March 2003 .

MR WOOD

(Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and


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