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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 August 2005 2005) . . Page.. 3104 ..

Another one says, “You can agree with him or not, but there is no denying that his government is providing leadership on important issues.” The PR machine is in full swing. I thought, “What do you have to do to get these letters?” I am told that there are some links, though. Normally, to get a headline like that, you would need a few letters saying what a wonderful person Jon Stanhope is, and then he gets a headline. I am told that the author of one of the letters, the person who says “there is no denying that his government is providing leadership on important issues”, is the wife of his chief of staff. I found that interesting.

So I thought, “How else would you get a good letter?” I understand that the first letter writer is an ALP member. I guess self-praise is no praise at all, Mr Speaker. We see a couple of slightly critical editorials in the Canberra Times and the PR goes into full swing. The ALP letter writers get going, the officers get to work to try to express community opinion that, “No, we really have a Chief Minister who is a politician of integrity and decency.” It is always a bit embarrassing, I guess, when these things are shown up.

Of course, this government has form. I believe it was one of Mr Gentleman’s staffers, whom I certainly will not name—Mr Gentleman would—who wrote a gushing letter in praise of Mr Corbell’s health system. She said, “Why does that nasty opposition keep saying that the health system’s not going well?” The point I made at the time, and the point I will make again, is that all these kinds of things do is erode public confidence. The next time Mr Corbell gets up to read a letter, we will not know where it has come from. We will not know whether it was written by a staffer or whether it was written by a Labor Party apparatchik. As we are seeing here, the Labor Party PR system is in full swing in defence of our Chief Minister. It is great to see that at least some people in the Labor Party still think that Jon Stanhope is a great bloke.

Disaster planning

MR SMYTH (Brindabella—Leader of the Opposition) (6.27): I will use the last couple of minutes to complete what Mr Pratt started to talk about, the evacuation plans that I look forward to seeing. It is interesting that the final paragraph of the email from the head of the State Emergency Services in the ACT actually says:

the ACTSES is to take the lead role in the development of plans, the identification of sites, and possibly the development and delivery of training as appropriate.

I would have thought that if, as the Chief Minister claims, the evacuation plans were ready, it would not be necessary to develop any more, that the sites would have already been identified and that development and delivery of training, as appropriate, would have already been undertaken. This email was sent out yesterday afternoon, Monday, 22 August 2005 at 2.11 pm. So the discussion with Peter Dunn, the head of the Emergency Services Authority, took place on the morning of the 22nd. Clearly, on the morning of 22 August, there were no evacuation plans, as claimed by the Chief Minister.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The time allotted for the debate has expired.

The Assembly adjourned at 6.30 pm.

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