Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 500 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
There may come a time, Mr Speaker, when there will need to be intervention in the market. I should give some concrete examples of what might happen. It may well be the case that building will be delayed because we do not have tradespeople on hand and we will not have the power to organise to get them here when we need them.
Canberra has suffered trade shortages before. In a rebuilding program as concerted and as extensive as this one, the likelihood is great. We have to ask the question: has the government made any arrangements in this regard? At this stage, I doubt it. All we have had so far is bland assurances. That is not good enough for the people who are waiting to rebuild their lives. We are dealing with an ongoing emergency and we therefore need to prepare and act accordingly.
And then there is the question of policing profiteering. Does the government have sufficient powers or resources as it is to ensure that fire victims do not become victims also of rapacious greed or shoddy practices? I would envisage that a properly resourced authority, such as we are proposing today, would have the powers to deal with such issues. What government can do best is organise and marshal resources. Essentially, this bill proposes a mechanism for organising and marshalling resources.
I turn to another aspect of the current bushfire recovery process that needs addressing. With all the good intentions and the proactive work plan that the task force has devised, there are no delineated lines of reporting. How do we evaluate the task force's performance? How do we determine if it is meeting its goals? What, if any, are its performance indicators? We simply do not know. The task force advises the Chief Minister's Department and the Chief Minister's Department evaluates the advice and then advises the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister, if he chooses, then advises the Assembly, but only perhaps if we ask specific questions.
In other words, under the present regime, there is no prescribed reporting mechanism. The Chief Minister's Department and the Chief Minister, if they choose, can keep it all in-house. If the task force finds itself at odds with the bureaucracy, as may well be the case, to whom can it complain? To the bureaucracy, of course. This is a ramshackle arrangement and all the good will in the world will not overcome the fact that we have set no targets, no means of measuring performance, no clear lines of reporting and no real accountability. The government has taken the line of least resistance and shown itself to be timid in the extreme.
If, in six, 12 or 18 months, we are hearing stories of delay, of red tape, of promised aid not forthcoming-if, in short, we are hearing of people not being able to get their lives back together-who will we blame? It really is not a matter of attributing blame. We should be bold and act now. We should throw the full resources of government into this effort and show what we can achieve. The way to do that is to give an organisation such as the proposed bushfire reconstruction authority powers so that it can act and not just advise.
In the next few years the community of Canberra will have lots of things to think about. We will have to redesign for the 21st century many suburbs that were designed in the late 20th century. We will have to think about appropriate plantings to replace both our