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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 635 ..

MR STANHOPE: I will conclude. We have not refused to appoint a judicial inquiry into the bushfire. There is one in operation. It is in operation today. It has applied to pick the most enormous resources.

Mr Smyth: Yet again, Mr Stanhope perpetuates the notion that we are calling for a second judicial inquiry. We are not.

MR SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. It is an attempt to debate the issue, and I am not going to tolerate too much more of that. Will you conclude, Mr Stanhope?

MR STANHOPE: I would have concluded by now, if I had been allowed. We have not refused to establish a judicial inquiry. There is one, and there are very good reasons why the government has pursued the position it has in relation to David Eastman. I stand by them and am happy to explain them on a more appropriate occasion.

Select Committee on the Status of Women in the ACT

MRS CROSS: My question is to Ms Gallagher in her capacity as the Minister for Women. Minister, on 21 November 2002 the Select Committee on the Status of Women in the ACT tabled its report to the Assembly. Minister, the government's response to this report was due on 4 March this year. Given the significance of International Women's Day, would you please update the chamber on the status of the government's response?

MS GALLAGHER: I know there is a lot of interest in the government's response. Certainly, the work of the committee was extensive. It took a year to put that report together and it took a lot of effort by my committee colleagues, Ms Dundas and Mrs Cross, as well as by the committee secretary, David Skinner. We did table the report on 21 November and there were 59 recommendations in that report, which were very wide ranging. The recommendations have required responses from almost every agency in the public service. Those responses have been coordinated by the Office for Women.

It is the practice of governments to table responses within three months of the tabling of reports. As you say, Mrs Cross, that report does require a response this sitting week. I acknowledge that it would have been great to table the response this week, considering its relevance to, and in light of, International Women's Day on Saturday. However, it simply was not possible.

There were three reasons: timing-it was tabled on 21 November, which meant that it cut into the Christmas-New Year break; the bushfires-many of the staff of the Office for Women in the Chief Minister's Department were required to perform other duties throughout most of January; and the third reason is that the Office for Women has had to coordinate responses from most agencies. I wrote to the Speaker alerting him to the delay last week, I think, saying that we would not be able to meet this deadline. My discussions with the Office for Women lead me to believe that the work is well under way.

We are not delaying it, but what we do want to ensure is that we provide a considered response. It is more important to table a response, even if we could not meet the

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