Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 155 ..
Sitting suspended from 12.21 to 2.30 pm.
Questions without notice
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, you told the Assembly yesterday that advice was given to you between 2.00 pm and 2.30 pm on Saturday, 18 January to declare a state of emergency. Duffy residents have told me that police were deploying in Duffy at approximately 1. 00 pm, preparatory to a declaration of a state of emergency. Can you inform the Assembly what time the police first made a request, or advised the Emergency Services Bureau to commerce procedures for a declaration of a state of emergency?
MR STANHOPE: I cannot tell you at what time the police first raised the issue of a state of emergency with the Emergency Services Bureau, but I am happy to take that on notice.
MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question? It is supplementary information, really, if it has been taken on notice.
MR SMYTH: It is supplementary to the supplementary! When were the first indications that urban areas were under threat, and what arrangements were made to issue warnings? If you want to take that on notice as well, I would understand that.
MR STANHOPE: In relation to the precise detail of those sorts of issues, I would, once again, have to defer to the Emergency Services Bureau. These, of course, are matters which will be very much part and parcel of the detailed and comprehensive submissions the Emergency Services Bureau is currently in the process of preparing for both the coroner and the McLeod reviews-the joint reviews which will get to every aspect of the fires, from the time they commenced until disaster befell the ACT.
I do not have the precise details of the specific issuance of warnings by the Emergency Services Bureau in relation to the four fires which were commenced by lightning strike and which, on 18 January, impacted on the community. I am certainly aware that, as early as on the Thursday and Friday, the Emergency Services Bureau was, through its communications and media releases about the bushfires and because of the level of alert or concern being experienced, drawing attention to the existence of the fires and the fact that they were potentially serious.
In relation to specific broadcasts on the Saturday, I know, as all members do, that, some hours before the fire reached the suburban fringe, the Emergency Services Bureau was issuing alerts. as the afternoon progressed, the initial alerts were converted into definite warnings in relation to specified suburbs, and specific suburbs were put on high alert as a result of the advancement of the fire.