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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 22 September 2005) . . Page.. 3576 ..

reforms that the federal government has proposed may be illegal in the ACT. Therefore, the rights of ACT citizens to be protected from acts of terrorists may be severely compromised, thanks to this delusional Chief Minister who puts the rights of potential terrorists over and above the rights of the law abiding majority. I hope the Chief Minister will significantly change his attitude prior to the COAG meeting on terrorism next week. To combat the terrorist threat we need uniformity across the states and territories. Mr Stanhope is the pathetically dismal odd guy out and is at risk of making the ACT the soft touch when it comes to allowing radical attitudes, or allowing potential terrorists space to plan and carry out their criminal activities.

The Labor government has driven this negligent attitude towards emergency management since the January 2003 fires by not working hard to unearth the truths behind the emergency management failures that saw the ACT community not warned about the impending danger. The Chief Minister demonstrated only a superficial commitment to inquiring deeply into perhaps the worst natural disaster the ACT has ever seen, with its tragic loss of life and extensive property and environmental damage. Since McLeod, the Stanhope government has moved with some urgency to implement some of the McLeod recommendations, yet the list of failures to improve essential emergency capability, or to at least do so within budget, is significant.

There are many examples to highlight this government’s lack of sincerity towards community safety via bushfire preparedness. We see that bushfire fuel loads in parts of Namadgi national park, for example, are still at levels equal to those prior to the 2003 bushfire disaster. We also see that the strategic bushfire management plan, version two, has been delayed for at least another 12 months. We have not seen specific bushfire operational plans, or evacuation plans for specific areas or suburbs, so that urban residents and CFUs are instructed on what to do in the event of another bushfire or other disaster.

We see the failure by the Labor government to continue the formation of community fire units because of a lack of training and funding. We see the disbanding of the fire management unit of the Department of Urban Services, contrary to the McLeod recommendation to strengthen the capability of public land managers in bushfire preparedness. The minister will not provide either the public or the opposition with a strategic fuel hazard reduction list, pointing out areas that have been burnt off, grazed or mowed in readiness for the coming bushfire season.

We have also seen the government impede Coroner Maria Doogan and then downright attempt to destroy the entire January 2003 bushfire disaster coronial inquiry, particularly once it became clear that it was moving uncomfortably close to exposing the failure to adequately warn the community. The rights of nine government personnel involved in the fires apparently take priority over the rights of the community—the rights of the community to be safe. That is where this Chief Minister has failed in his fundamental duty to community safety, over and above his own self-preservation. The Chief Minister has also failed massively to ensure the safety of the ACT community by failing to educate and brief the community on terrorist incident management and evacuation policies. This is almost three years after the Bali bombings, which tragically highlighted that Australia and Australians are terrorist targets.

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