Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 644 ..
MR STANHOPE: I honestly do not believe that I have said that.
Mr Cornwell: Neither do we.
MR STANHOPE: Mr Pratt just said it. I will have to have a look at yesterday's Hansard in relation to that. What I said was that, at the time of the fires, which broke out on 8 January, there were four fires that concerned the ACT: one burning in New South Wales and three burning in the ACT. There were four lightning strikes. They were part of pattern of lightning strikes that essentially ran from Bathurst all the way to Melbourne. I think they started somewhere between-I cannot quite remember-50 and 80 fires. They were almost in a direct line.
When one looks at the spray of lightning strikes, it is a very interesting physical phenomenon. They caused a band of fires over a thousand or more kilometres long. Unfortunately, as we now know to our enormous cost, four of those fires affected our region. One of them, the McIntyres Hut fire, caught in New South Wales, just across our border. The other struck in the ACT. They were major fires.
Arrangements were made early in the first week for New South Wales to assist us in addressing the fires. At some stage-and I do not know when-in the week after 8 February, following meetings and consultations between ACT Emergency Services and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, it was agreed that the New South Wales Rural Fire Service would accept all responsibility for fighting the McIntyres Hut fire and that the ACT authorities would accept responsibility for fighting the other fires.
There was a division of labour and that was essentially the division. I would have to take advice from the bureau on the fine detail of that, but that is as it has been broadly described to me. New South Wales accepted that they would devote their personnel to that fire, excepting that other New South Wales personnel may have been applied to the New South Wales fires. However, I do not believe that, after that decision was made, any ACT personnel were devoted to the McIntyres Hut one but, once again, that is my broad understanding.
We had a circumstance in which New South Wales fought the McIntyres Hut fire, the ACT and other services-because we have to mindful that other services also eventually came to our assistance, essentially from Queensland-fought the other fires.
In the event, as I explained yesterday, all of the fires got away on 17 and 18 January with devastating and tragic consequences. The point I made yesterday in relation to Mr Cornwell's question about why we did not apply certain resources available in New South Wales to the fires, was that the resources were not ours. I did not know what the resources were. At this stage I still do not know, because Mr Cornwell has not provided the detail of exactly who owned the resources, or under whose control they were. They were New South Wales based resources.
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service was fighting the McIntyres Hut fire, and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service apparently did not apply those resources for whatever reason to the McIntyres Hut fire. I was making the very good point that the