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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 4 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1166..


MR PRATT (continuing):

One of the more concerning aspects of this issue lately has been the rather crass media speculation on the supposed circumstances surrounding his death. It illustrates the unseemly rush that the Australian media seems to have now to want to get hold of the so-called facts of the story and not be patient enough to allow authorities to properly investigate the circumstances so that his loved ones can be told quietly and quickly what really happened. It is always important that governments inquire into these things quickly so that they can transparently talk to the community about what may have happened. Notwithstanding that, you do not have to go into the personal and private aspects of a man's life when these things become newsworthy. That, unfortunately, is a problem we have now.

The same applies to the Tasmanian mine disaster. With that in mind, I, too, pass on my condolences to the family of Larry Knight who tragically died in that Beaconsfield mine collapse. We have admiration, and our fingers are crossed, for Todd Russell and Brant Webb who are still trapped under a kilometre of rock. Our hearts go out to their families as well, because you can imagine what they are going through. We have admiration too for the brave workers. It is very, very much a workers exercise to recover Mr Russell and Mr Webb.

I caution, though, the media about being too overly optimistic on this. It has worried me that people have started celebrating so quickly. There is a lot of danger for both those two men and the people who are trying to rescue them. Again, the media ought to be a bit more cautious about how they report on this as well.

Finally, when we talk about the miners in Tasmania, our servicemen and police, we have to remember that these are people who are usually fairly low key, they are very quiet, they are not celebrated in society, but they often work in dangerous circumstances both here and abroad. Let us remember our defence force personnel working in Iraq and Afghanistan particularly and, finally, our ADF and Australian Federal Police personnel serving in the Solomons, PNG and Timor. For the record, let us wish them all the best in the duties that they are performing for this country and their communities.

Tourism

Qantas—Canberra-Sydney flights

MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Industrial Relations) (6.03): In question time today Mrs Dunne asked me a question about tourism figures. From the many, many briefings that I have received in the past three weeks—and I am pleased to advise the Assembly that my generation X memory was accurate—I can report to the Assembly that the ACT in fact bucked the national tourism trends in 2005 and that national figures showed that there was an increase in the number of domestic overnight visitors by 6 per cent and that the national figure, in fact, was a reduction of 6 per cent. In fact, we were the only jurisdiction in the country to record an increase on an annual basis. I would note, of course, that quarter-by-quarter comparisons regularly show fluctuations and are generally considered to be a less reliable indicator than whole-year figures. I am pleased that, overall, in 2005 we saw that increase in overnight visitors.


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