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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3583 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

were carried out without risk to those persons invited to watch. Mrs Carnell acknowledged that she could have overridden such a decision if she wished. The coroner informs us that she did not do so.

The coroner also said that this decision, involving potentially far-reaching consequences for the Territory, was made in a publicly unaccountable fashion by a political staffer. I contend that what makes the matter worse was that this decision was made with the Chief Minister's full authority and approval; with her knowledge that no risk assessments had been made and there was no local technical knowledge to conduct such assessments.

Now, Mr Speaker, if the Chief Minister accepts that she has been let down by poor advice, and that this is her defence, what has she done with those officers who gave her such advice? Where are they now? Mr Walker took off to Sydney. Ms Ford was sent out of the town to work for SOCOG. Mr Dawson is working for the Prime Minister. And Mr Hopkins is now a political staffer to an ACT Liberal Minister. How clearer can the coroner be in suggesting that the Chief Minister had some responsibility for misleading the HSUA? I repeat his quote regarding the drafting of the HSUA reply:

All those involved in the drafting of the Chief Minister's reply, including the Chief Minister herself, sacrificed accuracy for expediency in their descriptions of the RGA report as part of an ongoing assessment ...

I repeat an earlier comment from the coroner, which is directly related to this sacrifice for expediency:

If these two independent experts had been available ... then the tragedy may well have been averted.

If the Chief Minister, knowing that the expertise was not there, had insisted that it be obtained before she signed such a letter to the HSUA, the tragedy may well have been averted. In short, nobody in the chain of command did his or her job properly. But, Mr Speaker, who has paid any penalty for this lack of due care? Nobody, Mr Speaker. Not Mr Hopkins, not Mr Dawson, not Ms Ford, not Mr Walker and, of course, not the Chief Minister. All failed the test of discharging a duty of care.

Mr Speaker, the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1989 (OH&S Act) imposes duties of care on employers and employees to ensure that workplaces and work methods are safe and without risk of injury to any person at or near that workplace. I have already demonstrated that the duty of care was not discharged. My position is supported by the comment from the report that:

All of PCPL, as project manager and Superintendent of contracts; Totalcare, as agent for the occupier and the Project Director; and the ACT Government as the occupier causing the demolition work to occur, also have a duty to ensure that the activities they were permitting, supervising or conducting on Acton Peninsula were

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