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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 4 March 2004) . . Page.. 740 ..

I wanted to say that I did think about it and that, having thought about it further, I do not believe it is the way that we should be going. I also do not think that the Auditor-General addressed all of the concerns raised by the government. Some of those were not fully discussed, so I dissented from that recommendation.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.33 to 2.30 pm.

Distinguished visitor

MR SPEAKER: I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of Mr Banuera Berina, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Privileges in the Parliament of Kiribati.

Questions without notice

Bushfires—declaration of a state of emergency

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope. Chief Minister, in question time yesterday you stated that the cabinet discussed the 40 to 60 per cent probability of declaring a state of emergency in connection with a potential threat to electricity infrastructure. You said:

There was a discussion about the potential for the fire to impact on the electricity lines coming in to the ACT, across Namadgi National Park and the Brindabellas, a potential scenario being that if arcing was created as a result of smoke, ash, soot and other impediments in the air, an electric surge could essentially cause the Macgregor substation to do whatever they do—surges happen—resulting in 80 per cent of the ACT being left without electricity.

Minister, today’s Canberra Times reports that ActewAGL was warned about the need to ensure good water pressure in the western suburbs of Canberra but not about a significant threat to powerlines carrying 80 per cent of the ACT’s power. Chief Minister, why was ActewAGL not warned about the threat to the powerlines, given that you claim that the discussion of the 40 to 60 per cent possibility of declaring a state of emergency was prompted by a significant threat to the ACT’s power supply?

MR STANHOPE: As I said yesterday, it was my memory that the discussion in relation to the state of emergency and its declaration at the cabinet meeting was in relation to potential blackouts of 80 per cent of Canberra as a result of damage to electricity infrastructure. That was my memory. It may be that others have a different memory of that, but that was my memory. That was raised again as a possible scenario as a consequence or one of the potential impacts of the fire. I think that was the information that was interesting to the cabinet. It was a potential or a potentiality that had never occurred to me. It was something that I had never understood—

Mr Quinlan: Ionisation.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Quinlan is something of an expert on this and has something of an understanding of these issues. I did not. I had never before been made aware of the

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