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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 June 2004) . . Page.. 3042 ..


MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope. Chief Minister, in response to a question from me on Tuesday about the advice he received about the progress of the fires in January 2003, Mr Wood said:

I took it upon myself as much as anything to keep myself informed, especially by attending those morning briefings.

At the Thursday cabinet warning, you were told that there was a 40 to 60 per cent chance that you would have to declare a state of emergency that weekend because of the bushfires. You were warned that the urban edge of Canberra faced a significant threat from the fires, yet you did absolutely nothing on the evening of 17 January or the morning of 18 January to keep yourself informed, despite having received a clear warning at the cabinet meeting of this serious threat that the ACT was facing.

Why didn’t you, like Mr Wood, keep yourself informed about significant developments in the fires on the evening of 17 January and the morning of 18 January?

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, that question is based on a whole range of false assumptions and simply is not able to be answered.

Child protection

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Children, Youth and Family Support, Ms Gallagher. Minister, on 24 June 2004, in response to a question from Mr Cornwell, you stated that you did not know why the Murray report would be six weeks later than the Vardon report had promised. You corrected the record on 29 June by saying:

In the brief—and I’d like to correct that part of my answer where I said I did not know why it is being delayed. In the brief to me Ms Vardon stated:

On 17 May 2004 I received a request from the acting CEO of the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services for four out of eight audit team members to return to substantive positions to deal with urgent matters of child safety.

Minister, you went on to say:

I supported this request as the audit had been dealing in the main with legacy issues and current matters had priority. The effect of the reduction of numbers of the audit team was to double their remaining time for the completion of the audit which I now expect to be completed by mid-July.

The Vardon report was delivered on 14 May 2004 and the request was received on 17 May 2004—interesting timing, Minister. I find it interesting also that you did not remember this request and your support for it when you answered Mr Cornwell’s question.

Mr Stanhope: Is there a question here, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Come to the question.

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