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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2770 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

a good report, is objective, dispassionate and rigorous. It avoids the need to point the finger and to find people to blame in retrospect after a detailed, calm and calculated analysis has been made of what happened and what might have been done better. Six months later people are saying, "These things could have been done better. You could have made this decision or attempted to do something else."

Mr Smyth: I take a point of order.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The Chief Minister will resume his seat.

Mr Smyth: Under standing order 118 (a) and 118 (b) the minister is not allowed to debate the subject to which the question refers and his answer to the question has to be concise. Mrs Cross did not name any public servants and she did not attempt to apportion blame. She asked who was accepting responsibility for this. If the minister wants to add to his answer he can do that later today.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Clearly, Mrs Cross asked who was responsible for the matter. Her final question was, "Where does the buck stop?"I am sure that the Chief Minister, who is responding to that question, will come to the point.

MR STANHOPE: I will come to the point, Mr Speaker. Ultimately, responsibility rests with the government. I am happy to let members of the Liberal Party and Mrs Cross know here and now that I intend to go to the next election campaigning on this government's response and my personal response to the bushfires and to issues relating to the bushfires. As part of my campaign at the next election I hope to have some graphic footage of my involvement in bushfire-related issues.

I would welcome the next election, which is to be held in 14 short months, being fought solely and exclusively on this government's response to the bushfires. I am happy for the people of Canberra to make the judgment that they feel inclined to make about my response and this government's response to those fires. I am happy for the people of Canberra to judge opposition members on the cheap, nasty, personal and blame-making politics that they are determined to play.

Bushfires-Eucumbene Drive warning

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope. Residents of Eucumbene Drive have told the opposition that in December 2001 they were told by the Australian Federal Police to prepare to evacuate. That caused no panic. Why, according to the Canberra Times of 6 August 2003, did the Emergency Services Bureau decide not to warn residents because "it did not want to panic people"? Do you back this judgment call by the Emergency Services Bureau?

MR STANHOPE: This is an issue that Mr McLeod went to in detail in his report in that he made some recommendations in relation to some of the confusion that was created relating to the issue of whether to evacuate or stay. Mr McLeod points to the confusion that there was on the day of the bushfire in relation to this issue. Indeed, Mr McLeod reports that it was the issue that caused the greatest frustration and the greatest ongoing concern and anger to residents of bushfire-affected areas.

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