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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3622 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

Service is a feature of this Government and this Chief Minister - a Chief Minister who boasts of her hands-on approach. It permeates every aspect of her Government. Combine that with the obsession with media performance and you end up with a recipe for disaster.

A dangerous industrial event turned into a publicity stunt, with the regulatory authorities either not involved or tethered. Mrs Carnell says that the buck stops with her. But then there is nothing more. The true meaning of "the buck stops here" is acceptance of responsibility. That means accepting the responsibilities for the failures of government, particularly when those failure arose because of the policies put in place by the Government. That is what happened here. The systemic failure identified by the coroner arose because of the policies and actions of the Chief Minister. She should go. Someone asked, "What sort of a precedent would this create?". The precedent we have to worry about is the precedent which is created by not ousting this Chief Minister.

MR CORBELL (4.33): I join with the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Berry and my other Labor colleagues today in supporting this motion of want of confidence in the Chief Minister. The reasons for this want of confidence are clear and unambiguous. The coroner himself has stated emphatically in his report that the Minister assuming responsibility for the project was the Chief Minister. Indeed, counsel for the ACT acknowledge that the Chief Minister's Department was the part of the ACT which constituted the client for the purposes of the Acton Peninsula project. However, the Chief Minister, Mr Walker, the then chief executive of the Chief Minister's Department, and Mr Wearing, the Chief Minister's chief of staff, had different interpretations. This strange interpretation provided by those three individuals was commented upon by the coroner. He said:

... one would have expected that such senior personnel, both in Government and the Executive would have at least known the correct position.

The position was that the Chief Minister's Department was the client. What we have here is a first principles ignorance of who is the client in relation to the Acton Peninsula project - not only by the Minister responsible but by her most senior public servant, Mr Walker, and her chief of staff, Mr Wearing. These are evidenced by the coroner's own comments. This Assembly has to ask itself how could public safety be assured when administrative issues, such as who the client was, were debated by the person with direct responsibility for the implosion; namely, the Chief Minister. The coroner went on to comment in his report:

It is, however, an inescapable conclusion of fundamental importance, no matter what form the event may be, that all administrators and organising authorities ensure that the safety of the public is not compromised and is absolutely protected.

We now know that the Government completely and absolutely abrogated its responsibility for the safety and protection of the public. The coroner identified that public safety should have been the fundamental concern of the Chief Minister in relation

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