Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2769 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
be paid. To the best of my knowledge all compensation cases have been resolved. With regard to the provision of counselling services, extensive de-briefings have been offered, where required. Mr Corbell just informed me that he has been a party to that information.
Mrs Cross: To volunteers? Are you sure? You had better check.
MR WOOD: Those services have been offered to volunteers.
Mrs Cross: That is not the information that I have been given.
MR WOOD: Mrs Cross should refer to me those cases in which people believe they have been neglected. I want to continue providing-as was provided earlier this year-an immediate and full response to every need. If there are any gaps in the provision of those services that I have not heard about I will attempt to resolve them and establish what can be done. Nothing has been spared in accommodating not just the victims of the fires but also those who fought the fires. I took offence at the inference by the member that we are looking after bureaucrats and not bushfire fighters.
At the end of the day bureaucrats willingly, efficiently and effectively took on an enormous additional workload. Those bureaucrats, who are dedicated to their jobs and to the people of Canberra, have not asked for or sought anything different. It was quite unfair of the member to say, on the one hand, that the government was looking after bureaucrats but, on the other hand, it was not looking after those important volunteers.
MRS CROSS: I ask the Chief Minister a supplementary question. Given that it is within the Chief Minister's mandate to call a state of emergency, and given that he has overall responsibility for everyone in the ACT public service, who is ultimately responsible for the inaction of officers leading up to the 18 January bushfires? Where does the buck stop?
Mr Wood: I take a point of order. This is not a supplementary question to the question that was asked earlier about volunteers.
MRS CROSS: My question relates to bushfires.
MR SPEAKER: Order! I call the Chief Minister.
MR STANHOPE: The member asked an interesting question. Members and former members of the Liberal Party want to sheet home the blame. Somebody must be responsible for the lightning strike. Somebody must be responsible for not standing in the path of this act of God. Someone's head must roll and blood must be spilled. The government must sack somebody. Let us stop beating around the bush. Let us stop using euphemisms about bureaucrats and let us be up-front in relation to this issue.
Mrs Cross and members of the Liberal Party want to know why I will not sack Mike Castle-a great Canberran and a great Australian-or Peter Lucas-Smith. I will not sack them because, in my judgment and in the judgment of Ron McLeod, we do not believe there is a need to point a finger at individuals. Ron McLeod's report, which is