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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3596 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

criticism I make of Mr Purse, the Chief Inspector, I agree with him that WorkCover was not TCL or PCAPL's safety officers.

I think the coroner summed up the situation very well when he said:

... not only was there a lack of experience and competence demonstrated by so many of the relevant parties engaged on the project but an unrealistic expectation or perception held by so many of those participants that issues had been properly examined or had been complied with or were being undertaken by others and so there was no need to be concerned or intrude. The evidence, considered globally, is to the contrary and demonstrates ineptitude to a significant degree ...

However, it is bad enough that mistakes were made in the management of the demolition project which caused the implosion to emit more flying debris than was expected. If there had been not many people watching the implosion from close by it would not have been so much of a problem, hopefully. The debris would have just hit the ground or the water. However, there were over 100,000 people watching the implosion, with hundreds of people gathered around the prime viewing spot near Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and people on boats even closer. That Katie Bender was hit was a tragedy. That no-one else was hit was a miracle.

The coroner was utterly scathing in his comments about the promotion by the Government of the implosion as a public spectacle and their encouragement to Canberra people to attend. He summed it up by saying:

On any global view of all the evidence it was a total abrogation of responsibility to the safety and well being of the general Canberra community to have adopted such a position.

Mr Smyth just asked us to look seriously at what the coroner said. Which bit of "total abrogation of responsibility to the safety and well - being of the general Canberra community" do you not understand, Mr Smyth? It is bad enough for the Canberra community to have their money spent irresponsibly by the Government through such dubious ventures as the Bruce Stadium; it is quite another thing, however, to have your life put at risk by the reckless actions of the Government as part of its own self-promotion. As the coroner says:

The public are entitled to expect that if they are attending or encouraged to attend such public spectacles or features especially with their families then they do so in the quiet confidence that their lives, their families, friends and others are not exposed to the risk of death or grave physical injury and their safety is secured.

This confidence was totally shattered on 13 July 1997. The full dimensions of this tragedy have been revealed through the process of the coroner's inquest. It is now time for the Chief Minister to admit that, with her approval, the Government so failed to protect public safety through its bungling and interference.

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