Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 516 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
The current inquiry format and procedure, being employed by the ACT Government, will render McLeod's report otiose.
I look forward to hearing your response to this correspondence.
He asks the Chief Minister to contact him with any queries. I seek leave to table that letter, Mr Speaker.
MR STEFANIAK: I table the following paper:
Bushfire inquiry-"ACT Government inquiry into January 2003 bushfires"-copy of facsimile of letter from Michael Bartlett, Solicitor to Mr John Stanhope, Chief Minister, ACT Legislative Assembly, dated 4 March 2003.
Mr Stanhope: It was addressed to me but sent to everybody else first. It was one of those letters.
MR STEFANIAK: The Chief Minister says that the letter is addressed to the Chief Minister but was sent to everyone else. It was sent to several other people. As I indicated, I asked for Mr Bartlett's permission before using the letter. He did send it to other people as well as the Chief Minister.
I heard the Chief Minister interject, "What about your government?"Chief Minister, there may well be things that the former Liberal government could and should have done better. If the former Liberal government made errors, if the former Liberal government could have done things better, if the former Follett government could have done things better, if the former Alliance government could have done things better, if the Commonwealth government of the 1980s could have done better, if the New South Wales Labor government, which has some responsibility here, could have done better, let us hear it. Let it come out. Let us learn what lessons we can. We are not afraid to be criticised. If we did things wrong, a proper inquiry will say that. If your government has done anything wrong, a proper inquiry will say that. If any government has done anything wrong or could have done something better, a proper inquiry will say that. That is terribly important so that we do learn the lessons from this fire.
Hopefully, we will not have a similar fire again. If we have a similar disaster again, hopefully some of the improvements we make as the result of a full and proper inquiry will assist us in combating it better. That is why we have inquiries-so we can learn from any mistakes. It does not have to be a witch-hunt.
I was on the scene not long after the fire. I saw people doing their very best on the day to counter this dreadful catastrophe. I am very appreciative of the hard effort from senior officers down in relation to this inquiry. But that is not to say that we cannot learn from our mistakes. That is not to say that things could not be done better. In starting an inquiry, it is terribly important that we do it properly. If people feel able to give evidence before it and it is done thoroughly, we can learn from any mistakes that may have been made.