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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 193 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The other important point that needs to be made is that we should thank Mr Smyth for bringing this motion to the floor of the Assembly for debate today. We all feel that we should have an input, we all represent different areas of the community, and we all have had concerns expressed to us about outcomes and how we can move forward. The mentality of the government that it will all be fixed in-house does not provide me with confidence; and it is not providing the people in the community I speak to with confidence. As I have said, I accept that some things will happen in terms of how the government operates, such as automatic reviews being put into place, and that is important. But we have the opportunity under the Inquiries Act to broaden the scope of the investigation to give proper protection to people who provide evidence to the inquiry.

I was quite disappointed to hear during question time today the Chief Minister call people who wish to remain anonymous-I think this was the phrase he used-"gutless wonders". There are times when confidentiality is paramount because people could suffer harassment, people might lose their jobs. We don't splash the names of victims of crime around everywhere because we recognise that if we did they could be further harassed. People need to feel confident that they can come forward to put their concerns about what led to this tragedy and what happened in the aftermath of this tragedy.

I hope that this debate today has given the government food for thought. I hope that they will not go back into their bunker after this debate and pretend that they can get everything right. I know that the government has the great resources of the ACT Public Service behind them and working with them, and that is important, but the community still has a lot of questions that they feel are not going to be answered by the government's inquiries. I urge-and I hope this debate results in this-the government to reconsider how it is operating in the aftermath of this tragedy, and how it can be more inclusive and more aware of the feelings and need for input that the community is looking for.

Hopefully we can learn much from what has occurred over the last couple of months, in a time frame that allows us to better prepare not only for the bushfire season next year and the continuation of the bushfire season this year, but also for any other sort of disaster that may affect our town in the future.

MRS DUNNE (4.53): I compliment Ms Dundas on her thoughtful contribution to this debate-a thoughtful contribution that cannot be considered partisan. I think it is very sad that, although it is now four weeks since the fire, this is the first chance members of this place have had to be consulted about the inquiries being held into the great tragedies around 18 January.

In response to a question from Mrs Cross during question time today the Chief Minister said that the rules of evidence and the rules of privilege would not apply to the Macleod inquiry. This is one of the most telling problems with that inquiry.

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