Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 4 March 2004) . . Page.. 744 ..
by doing something more committed and serious to reduce the 17 hour wait for people in that ward to least a quarter of that? Are you prepared to make that commitment?
MR CORBELL: Unlike Mrs Cross, I am not prepared to be naive.
MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, and Minister for Police and Emergency Services. The fire brigade was sufficiently concerned about the danger posed by bushfires in January 2003 that it warned a number of agencies. Specifically it warned Val Jeffery, the captain of the Southern District Bushfire Brigade, of the threat to Tharwa, and ACT Housing about the threat to residents of Uriarra, Pierces Creek and Stromlo forestry settlements. Val Jeffery was responsible enough to warn the citizens of Tharwa about the impending inferno. ACT Housing did not warn the residents of Uriarra, Pierces Creek and Stromlo forestry settlements, leaving them to fend for themselves as best they could on 18 January 2003. Why didn’t ACT Housing warn the tenants in the forestry settlements?
MR WOOD: I am not sure about that. I would like to take that on notice and thoroughly check the details of the lines of communication and what happened.
MR STEFANIAK: I note the Minister will take my first question on notice, but as a supplementary I ask why did he fail in his duty of care to his tenants, given that on Thursday the fires were well within striking distance of the Uriarra forestry settlement?
MR WOOD: The information I have is that ACT Housing was advised of a likely problem in Uriarra and that it had been advised by ESB that ESB was in the stage of advising Uriarra tenants that it would be suggesting to them they should evacuate, or they might think about evacuating. Since ESB was doing that task, I am not sure that ACT Housing would want to duplicate it. Housing was certainly aware of the circumstances there and I would think it would have confidence that people were being told. But, as I say, I will get the precise information to the member.
Bushfires—declaration of a state of emergency
MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. In question time yesterday I asked you how you reconciled your claim that you were first informed that a state of emergency might be necessary “between 2.00 and 2.30 on Saturday, 18 January” with the evidence before the coroner that on 16 January cabinet was told that there was a 40 to 60 per cent chance that a state of emergency would have to be declared. In the answer that you gave yesterday, you said, among other things:
This is all ifs and buts, and if this happens and if that happens … It was theoretical thinking being engaged in … I think the answer was that either Mr Castles, Mr Lucas-Smith or perhaps even Mr Keady said, “If we lost 80 per cent of our electricity, we would probably have to think about whether or not you needed a state of emergency declared.”
I appreciate, Chief Minister, that if it were hypothetical, you might not have total recall about the assumptions behind that hypothetical. But are you definitely asserting that you were not told at the time of the briefing, on the basis of the actual conditions then