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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 888..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Coroner's Court, said that he had no inkling, no idea, no forewarning, no advice that there was an expectation not just that a fire would reach Canberra on 18 January but a firestorm with a front moving at, at times, 10 kilometres at a go, with winds of 150 kilometres an hour-a firewall of 60 metres-would hit Canberra. He had absolutely no expectation, understanding or knowledge of that.

MR PRATT: My supplementary question to the Chief Minister is: how can the community feel confident that you will warn them if this happens again?

Mr Corbell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is a hypothetical question, Mr Speaker, and should be ruled out of order.

Mrs Dunne: On the point of order, Mr Speaker: the question as to whether the government can instil confidence in the community is not a hypothetical question.

MR SPEAKER: I think the hypothetical point that Mr Corbell refers to is "if this happens again". But Mr Pratt did ask the question about how confident the community would be about warnings, and I am prepared to allow the question.

MR STANHOPE: The government is very concerned to ensure that the levels of anxiety in the community in relation to our exposure to fire and to disasters and danger such as that that did befall the community on 18 January is assuaged. Of course, it is an anxiety that has been beaten up by the Liberal Party. It is an anxiety that in large measure is a result of this tawdry and cheap and nasty gutter campaign that the Liberal Party is running in relation to the issue.

Mr Pratt: The people at Narrabundah Hill would not agree with you.

MR STANHOPE: I think part of this issue is around instilling confidence. The government have gone out of their way to instil confidence in the community. We did that through the commissioning of the McLeod inquiry. We did that through our determination to implement all 61 recommendations of that inquiry-something that we have committed ourselves to, something that we have funded and something that we are doing. They are the steps that the ACT government have taken-and in our determination to ensure that the community is safe and in our determination to assuage the levels of anxiety we have been hindered very much by the appalling, tawdry, cheap, nasty gutter campaign that Mr Pratt and his colleagues are running in relation to the fire. It is appalling gutter politics of the worst order. We are doing our best to overcome it. We know that the rest of the Canberra community regard the Liberal Party as essentially irrelevant. We know that, and we are hoping on this issue that the people of Canberra will continue to regard the Liberal Party, the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues, with the disdain that they have shown for them over the last couple of years. We are confident that that will continue to be the case. This is a joke of an opposition-an absolute joke of an opposition; an opposition that has no credibility or standing within the community, that is very much a standing joke. Of real concern to the people of Canberra is that the opposition have not been able to present any effective opposition to the government. It is not good for any of us, of course, to be faced within the parliament by a group, by a party-by a leader of the opposition who is simply incompetent.

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