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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1690 ..

I commend both the draft regulations and the Planning and Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Bushfire Inquiry (Protection of Statements) Amendment Bill 2003

Mr Wood

, on behalf of Mr Stanhope, pursuant to leave, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.


(Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (11.20): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

On 10 February 2003, Mr Stanhope announced an inquiry into the operational response to the January 2003 bushfires in the ACT. The report by the McLeod inquiry will be of interest to all Canberrans.

Earlier this year, the Assembly passed legislation protecting people who made submissions to the McLeod inquiry from any risk of defamation that might exist. The Assembly also provided similar protection for the report of the inquiry and to fair summaries and extracts of the report.

At the time the legislation was prepared it was expected that the report would be completed in time for tabling during a sitting period. Accordingly, the act does not make provision for tabling the report outside a sitting period. Without the amendment proposed today, if the report is completed when the Assembly is not in session, the report will not be able to be made public until the Assembly has reconvened and the report has been tabled. The delay between the completion of the report and the tabling of the report could amount to a number of weeks.

This amending bill, the Bushfire Inquiry (Protection of Statements) Amendment Bill 2003, permits the reports of the inquiry to be released publicly, even though the Assembly is not sitting at the time. This will enable fair discussion of that report at the earliest possible time.

Mr McLeod and his team have been working diligently to investigate the operational response to the fires. This is a mammoth task and, on behalf of the Chief Minister, I thank them for their continuing efforts. Many people have made valuable submissions to the inquiry. This bill will enable the community to view the results of these efforts and to discuss the report without unnecessary delay. I commend the bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

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