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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3584 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

carried out safely and without risk to others. When a general invitation was issued inviting the public to view the implosions, the standard of care owed by these people ... rose.

In short, Mr Speaker, I suggest that there was no risk assessment carried out; that there was a chain of knowledge, which included the Chief Minister specifically, that they had not been conducted. It was known by the same chain of knowledge that there was no locally available technical expertise. It was contended that such risk assessments were an ongoing process, with the knowledge that this was false and that the sum of this is a dereliction of the duty of care, which had the most serious of consequences.

Mr Speaker, this brings me to the question of the acceptance of responsibility. I suggest that the Chief Minister, as managing director of the corporation known as the ACT Government, should accept responsibility on behalf of that Government. As I have demonstrated, in only one instance the Chief Minister had knowledge, which had a direct bearing on the outcome, and did not use it. If she had, the tragedy may well have been averted. (Extension of time granted)

Someone must be held responsible for these systemic failures. Someone must be accountable for the obvious misleading information given to the HSUA. Someone must be held accountable for the disastrous consequences of the sin of omission. The Chief Minister knew the risk assessment should have been done and suggested falsely that it had. She committed the sin of omission in not ensuring that it was. It was her decision not to pursue this action, which had dire consequences. But, Mr Speaker, all of us here and the wider ACT community can hold the Chief Minister, as head of the bureaucracy in the ACT, the politician responsible for political staff decisions, as the Minister responsible for the project, accountable for the clear sin of omission, the dereliction of duty of care, in not ensuring the safety of all of those who watched on that dreadful day.

Further, Mr Speaker, if a Minister signs a letter which is inaccurate, misleading or false, that Minister should be held accountable for it. It is serious enough that the falsehood occurred, but the cavalier way in which the Chief Minister has not accepted responsibility for the systemic failure should not be allowed to continue. This Assembly should reject this contempt for honest process.

Sitting suspended from 12.38 to 2.30 pm

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (2.32): Mr Speaker, it is important to understand what the Government's purpose is. We want to focus on the report and not play the politics that have been played so clearly today by those opposite. What we need to do is put on the record what we have done to address the issues.

Mr Stanhope opened his remarks by saying that the Chief Minister had failed to respond adequately to the report. That is curious, Mr Speaker, because he made that assessment within an hour of receiving his copy of the report. Within an hour he said that we had not responded and he would move a no-confidence motion. Yet, when he started this morning he said that the reason for the no-confidence motion was our failure to respond.

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