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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 523 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

Let us talk about the McLeod inquiry. Yes, the terms of reference seem to be broad and deep enough. Yes, Mr McLeod will be a fine investigator. By all accounts, he is well regarded and well respected. But Mr McLeod can only be as effective as the information which comes to him-information which is fairly and fearlessly provided to him and information which is gathered along a broad spectrum of tasks and activities well sewn into solid terms of reference. Mr McLeod needs to be empowered to go out and get information. He needs to be empowered to gain documents. Only a judicial inquiry will give him that power.

Mr Corbell stated that we have skipped over the coroner's inquiry. Mr Corbell was not listening. He is playing politics by suggesting that we are playing politics with the coronial inquiry. A coroner's inquest, thankfully, will invite broad input-we welcome that-but by its very nature it must be restricted in its terms of reference. Is the coroner's inquest obliged to investigate back over a long period of time and examine systemic weaknesses in the ACT's strategic fire preventative systems? No, it is not. The Chief Minister says that we are playing politics, but he is doing that by seeking to shut down constructive debate on this issue. Why?

The lessons learnt are of paramount importance. That is what is driving the community's need to recover from this quite significant disaster. The safety of the community is far more important than political damage for any political party in this place. (Extension of time granted.) The safety of the community is far more important than the reputation of any individual in this place or in any department or the reputation of anyone who has been on the firefighting ground or standing in a suburb. The collective safety is far more important.

Experienced people and the inexperienced must be encouraged to come forward and contribute to a far-reaching and constructive inquiry. Mr McLeod needs to be empowered to get the information he needs to get. What is the government afraid of? Why will the government not agree to a broad judicial inquiry covering all the terms of reference and going back over a long period of time?

I support Mr Smyth's motion. The opposition will continue to do its duty in the interests of the community's safety.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (12.13), in reply: The debate we have had is very important, because it has been quite revealing about the government's understanding of what the McLeod inquiry and what the coronial inquiry will do. Mr Corbell said there will be no duplication. If there is no duplication between what McLeod will do and what the coroner will do, then all that McLeod will be left to do is decide the colour of the uniforms that volunteer bushfire fighters might wear. The thing that McLeod will look at-the operational response to the bushfire tragedy of 18 January-is well and truly covered in the terms of reference of the coroner.

That one statement encapsulates the falseness that the Chief Minister put forward in what he said today. The Chief Minister said that this was about cheap profile politics. Who is rejected today, Chief Minister? Whom have you turned your back on? Whom have you been lauding for the last month? The volunteer bushfire and emergency services fighters, the urban firefighters at the frontline-

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