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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4391..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

1. I am informed that it is being asserted by a person unknown to me that at approximately 8.30 pm on the evening of 17 January 2003, I was seen in the company of the Chief Minister, Mr Jon Stanhope, and other Emergency Services personnel at Red Hill lookout, Canberra.

2. Early in the evening of 17 January 2003, I was in the Emergency Services Bureau Headquarters at Curtin when I was approached by the Chief Fire Control Officer, Mr Peter Lucas-Smith, who suggested that I accompany him on a visit to the Red Hill lookout to observe the bushfires which were then burning to the west of Canberra.

3. I agreed to go with Mr Lucas-Smith as Red Hill offered a good vantage point to observe the firefront. I had not been to Red Hill prior to that time on 17 January or, so far as I can recall, at any other time since the fires started on 8 January 2003.

4. As Mr Lucas-Smith and I were leaving the headquarters building to travel to Red Hill, we met the Fire Commissioner, Mr Ian Bennett, who decided to accompany us. The three of us then drove to Red Hill in Mr Lucas-Smith's vehicle, a Toyota Landcruiser. The vehicle did not have official markings or external emergency lights. No other staff accompanied us and we used only the single vehicle for the journey.

5. We arrived at Red Hill at some time between 8.00 and 8.30 pm. We parked in the car park below the restaurant and walked to the western side of the lookout area. There was a large number of sightseers there at the time and a steady stream of vehicles coming to and leaving from the car park. Mr Bennett was dressed in his Fire Brigade uniform and Mr Lucas-Smith and I were dressed in civilian clothes. The light at the time was poor as the sun had set and vehicles had their headlights on.

6. We remained at the lookout for approximately ten minutes observing the fires and then the three of us returned to Curtin.

7. The Chief Minister did not accompany us in Mr Lucas-Smith's vehicle on the journey to Red Hill. He was not in our company at the Red Hill lookout and I did not see him at the lookout. There were no other emergency services personnel with us at that time. The three of us travelled alone to and did not meet anyone else at the lookout and, as far as I can recall, we did not speak to anyone else whilst we were there.

And I make this solemn declaration by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act 1959, and subject to the penalties provided by that Act for the making of false statements in statutory declarations, conscientiously believing the statements contained in this declaration to be true in every particular.

Mike Castle

Declared at Canberra, the 26th day of August 2004.

Mr Speaker, I table that statutory declaration, as I undertook to. I will conclude this sorry episode by saying that in relation to this issue my alleged presence on Red Hill on 17 January is something which my opponents in this place, both in the Liberal Party and

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