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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4238..


MR PRATT (continuing):

I ask a supplementary question. Why did you fail to come clean about your actions on the evening of 17 January 2003 and the morning of 18 January 2003? Was your failure to warn the community in time a direct result of your lack of concern? Is your shyness about this issue the reason why your chief of staff, Mr Friedewald, told my senior staffer ... today "to go and get ......"? The expletive has been deleted.

Mr Speaker, despite the utter rudeness of the Chief Minister's staff to my staff, he still failed to answer the integral element of the supplementary question. Why did he fail to come clean about his actions on the evening of 17 January 2003 and the morning of 18 January 2003? Was his failure to warn the community in time a direct result of a lack of concern by him? His answer simply was: no.

MR SPEAKER: Order! There are too many conversations going on in the chamber.

MR PRATT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. On 4 August 2004 I asked the Chief Minister-and again I quote from Hansard:

Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Given that you were acting emergency services minister on the evening of 17 January and the Chief Minister in charge of a cabinet facing a highly dangerous threat to the community, where exactly were you in Canberra on the evening of 17 January and what exactly were you doing about that threat that evening?

Not surprisingly, the Chief Minister did not answer my question about exactly where he was and exactly what he was doing on the evening of 17 January. His answer simply was:

I was in the north of Canberra, Mr Speaker

I again asked the Chief Minister:

Chief Minister, why are you so reluctant to tell the community what you were doing, other than embarrassment at your poor performance in a crisis?

His answer was:

I'm not, Mr Speaker.

Does the Chief Minister have such a lack of respect for the victims of the January 2003 bushfires and for the entire Canberra community that he serves that he refuses to disclose his exact location and his exact activity on the evening of 17 January? If the Chief Minister had pressing personal business, then that is all he has to say. We do not want to know about the detail of that; we are not interested; we are not prying into that. All he has to say is that he had those pressures, but then he has to also explain what contingencies he put in place to back him up. That is all we need. We are not asking whether he was mowing the lawn or having coffee. This is a very serious business because there were failings on the 17th and the 18th that go to the heart of good governance.


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