Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 874 ..
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, it the fact, regrettably, that we did not meet that deadline, and there are a number of circumstances around that. But the fact is it has not been met. We are now working, I believe strenuously, to get the system up and running as soon as possible. We have notified the people concerned-people who were part of our policy development. We have notified those who are impacted by the delay, explaining and apologising to them for the delay. I hope soon to be able to get it on track and up and running.
MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, is this latest broken promise symptomatic of a government that simply cannot make a decision or, when it does, fails to implement it?
MR WOOD: No, it is not.
Mr Stanhope: Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
Bushfires-submissions to inquiries
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, last Thursday Ms Tucker asked Mr Quinlan a question about an email sent to firefighters about preparation and submission of material to the coroner investigating the January bushfires. Mr Quinlan took the question on notice and, as it falls into my area of ministerial responsibility, I will provide the response.
Ms Tucker referred initially to an answer to a question asked by her, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, of the Chief Executive of the Department of Justice and Community Safety, Mr Keady. Briefly summarised, Mr Keady assured the Public Accounts Committee that no direction had been given to firefighters which would prevent them from making submissions direct to the McLeod inquiry. He also said it would be inappropriate for any such direction to be given and anyone, including firefighters, who wished to make a submission direct to either the McLeod inquiry or the coroner should feel free to do so.
Against that background, Ms Tucker expressed concern about an email sent to firefighters by Superintendent Kent, who was the fire brigade's liaison officer to the AFP investigation team acting on behalf of the coroner. Ms Tucker's concern is that the email seems to contradict assurances given earlier by Mr Keady that firefighters are free to make submissions. Mr Speaker, I can assure the Assembly and Ms Tucker that no such contradiction has occurred and any firefighter who wishes to approach the coroner to make a personal submission is absolutely free to do so.
The coronial process is an exhaustive one. For some weeks now a team of AFP officers investigating on behalf of the coroner has been contacting all the government agencies involved in the bushfire effort to identify and obtain relevant documents, to identify personnel from whom statements will be required, and to undertake other inquiries. At the request of these AFP investigators, the fire brigade and the bushfire and emergency service each nominated a liaison officer to facilitate the provision of information from their respective services to the coronial investigation team. Recently, both liaison officers sent similar emails to personnel in their respective services.