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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1238 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

position and Canberra public life. But it is an unfortunate politicising of an inquiry, a very important and significant inquiry, into the bushfire, the first of five inquiries.

Mr Pratt: I take a point of order under standing order 62, which relates to irrelevance. Can I please have an answer to the question?

MR SPEAKER: As long as the Chief Minister addresses the subject matter, the irrelevance rule is not appropriate.

Mrs Dunne: I take a point of order in terms of standing order 42 and ask the Chief Minister to address the Chair.

MR SPEAKER: Address your comments through the Chair.

MR STANHOPE: I am addressing my comments through the Chair, Mr Speaker. To put this matter in context, we need to understand the full suite of inquiries now in place or about to be undertaken. There is the McLeod inquiry, the inquiry which I established, an inquiry designed to review the way the emergency was handled, so that-I think that this is of fundamental importance-if there are lessons to be learned, they can be implemented before the next bushfire season.

I think the first and most fundamental responsibility of any responsible government is to ensure-at least to ensure to the extent we can in the time available, acknowledging that the next bushfire season starts on 1 November-that we have learned the hard, sharp lessons that we need to learn. That is a fundamental responsibility of this government, a responsibility that we will fulfil.

It requires us to have in place a review of what happened, what was done, what might have been done better, what wasn't done, and what was done that should not have been done. We have put in place a process through Ron McLeod, a person of unimpeachable integrity and reputation, to undertake that first look at the way we responded.

Then, as members know, there is the coronial inquest, an ACT coronial inquest, a full, essentially judicial, process being undertaken by Maria Doogan. It will cost between $1.5 million and $2 million. It will take between 18 months and two years to complete. It will have the full panoply of the law. People will be subpoenaed. People will be cross-examined. There will be full legal representation. That is what we are doing. That is the second aspect of the suite of inquiries we have in place.

Mr Smyth: I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. Standing order 118 (a) says that answers shall be concise and confined to the subject matter of the question. The question was about the Chief Minister's words; it was not about what anybody else was doing or what other inquiries were in place. The simple question was about whether he will honour his commitment, the words he has used both publicly and in this place. Will he answer that, not throw up a smokescreen, as he is wont to do, and talk about everything else except his commitments, on which he is failing?

MR SPEAKER: While ever the Chief Minister sticks to the subject matter of the question-

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