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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3579 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Well, clearly, matters have worsened. That is obvious. We know more damaging information about Bruce, and now we have this implosion before us. I would have thought this would have pushed Mr Rugendyke over the edge. I wonder if it can have been so marginal last time. The Independents earlier criticised the Labor Party for, they say, acting too hastily. That was not raised today. They asked how could we consider the report in the time before we announced our intentions.

The answer is obvious: Because we worked at it. We focused our minds. And there are quite a number of others in this place who did the same, have no doubt. Maybe some did not. Mr Stanhope's office had the report immediately upon release. Our members had the executive summary very rapidly. That was readily absorbed and where necessary references followed to the full report, as it became clear that action was necessary.

Do not forget that we all had followed the proceedings most closely and were well versed on all issues. We had carefully digested the report before, it seems, the Independents got a copy. So I'd say to the Independents, "Do not criticise us for acting too rapidly. You responded too slowly". If members have been following court cases, recent court cases and significant cases of claims after personal injury, including a High Court decision, you would be aware that those courts are taking the need for governments to exercise duty of care very seriously indeed. In the case of the implosion, the ACT Government failed absolutely to have respect for that principle. The promotion of the demolition as a public event was just the most dramatic evidence of their failure to exercise duty of care.

Today, members in this Assembly have to accept the duty to see that accountability, that ministerial responsibility, is maintained; that the Chief Minister is removed, so that proper standards are returned to the administration, so that we see no such tragic event occur again.

MR HARGREAVES (12.21): I regret that it is on one side of the chamber that comments seem to be made about this. Mr Speaker, the threads through the issues, which have prompted this motion, find their root in the systemic failures of government administration. We have heard the coroner state quite categorically that there was systemic failure and he referred to it as, and I quote:

... starts at the Government as the client and then permeates to the Project Director, the Project Manager and ultimately to those directly responsible for the detonation being the contractor and subcontractor.

It is acknowledged that the coroner did say:

No one can seriously attribute to Mrs Kate Carnell, the Chief Minister for the ACT, personally or directly, any responsibility for or contribution to the death of Katie Bender.

But this statement must be taken in the context of his consideration of apportioning responsibility for the actual event and in a context of criminal responsibility. However,

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