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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 181 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

It is a statement of value that we are making as a parliament if we say that we believe that this issue needs a proper independent inquiry. Why does it need a proper independent inquiry? ... There is also the issue of the perception throughout the community of carers and parents and of people with a disability themselves that they are not free to complain. Whether that is a perception or the reality is not the point. The point is that it is felt.

Another reason that I believe an independent commission of inquiry would be more preferable is that there can be a guarantee of confidentiality ... It removes the politics totally from the process. Removing the politics from this investigation is a fundamental reason for having an inquiry conducted by an independent commission of inquiry. I cannot stress that enough. We must remove it. We must have an independent look at these issues.

That was Ms Tucker in respect of the disabilities inquiry.

I have listed a significant number of very serious observations-I stress "observations"-not outright allegations, from a number of very experienced people. I have listed a number of my own questions, based on the facts and, I believe, objectively assessed. It is of paramount importance, for the sake and for the safety of our community, that these questions and observations be fully tested without fear and without favour. The government has not given confidence to the community that it seeks to get straight to the bottom of the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the events of 18 January.

It is of no concern to the opposition what facts emerge about bushfire management policy going back over 10 years. None of us in this place should be too shy about an examination of the history of bushfire preventative emergency management. The most important thing is that the community's interests be best served and that we learn the lessons that must be learnt and then apply them to ensure that we minimise the risk to the community and the ACT's infrastructure in the future.

I therefore call for a fully independent judicial inquiry.

MS TUCKER (4.08): I begin by acknowledging what Mr Smyth is trying to achieve with this motion. He is trying to make the inquiry process more effective and to cover a range of specific issues that he believes need to be addressed. I do not disagree with the issues that he thinks need to be addressed. I do, however, disagree with how they should be addressed.

Members are aware that there are several motions before the Assembly relating to the recent bushfires, each taking a different approach to addressing the issues raised by recent tragic events. As representatives of our community, we all want to do something to help us learn the lessons from these bushfires and to deal with the causes at the roots. But we need a coordinated and holistic approach that deals with both the specifics of the recent bushfires and the broader planning and environmental issues that these events have raised.

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