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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2771 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

He made those findings and he made a number of recommendations. I accepted those findings. I accepted the criticisms that Mr McLeod made about the confusion that was generated by apparently conflicting positions from the Emergency Services Bureau, the fire authorities and the ACT police. One of the recommendations that Mr McLeod made goes to the question of the need to ensure that that conflict is overcome in future. We have agreed with that recommendation. We have accepted that recommendation.

Essentially, what has happened is that the ACT police have now entered into a protocol with the Emergency Services Bureau in which the ACT police have accepted that the position to be applied in relation to whether to evacuate should be that put by the Australasian Fire Authorities Council, I think it is called, which has put the position-a position that the Emergency Services Bureau was putting until the disaster struck-that, if you are prepared, if you are fit, if you are competent, if you have confidence in your capacity, you should consider the possibility of staying and protecting your property.

Mr McLeod points to the fact that the Australian Capital Territory police, in some instances, did not follow that same process, and this did lead to confusion. It is confusion which should have been avoided. It is a criticism which the government has accepted. Recommendations have been made and have been acted on and will be acted on.

MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Was the decision not to issue warnings made by the ESB or the government, given that page 74 of the McLeod report states that most comments were closely linked to the need for early advice to the community about the threat and general public education about what to do in an emergency?

MR STANHOPE: All operational decisions in relation to the fire were made by the appropriate authorities. I cannot speak for Mr Wood. I can only speak for myself.

Mr Smyth: You were in charge.

MR STANHOPE: I was not the minister, except on the day, and on the day, as the acting minister for emergency services, I made no operational decisions. I made one decision on 18 January, and that was to declare a state of emergency. I made that decision on the basis of advice tendered to me by Mr Robert Tonkin, Mr Tim Keady and Mr Mike Castle in company with Mr John Murray and Mr Peter Lucas-Smith. I sought explicit advice from them.

We discussed the pros and cons, we discussed the reasons a state of emergency might be declared and we discussed why perhaps it was not an appropriate thing to do. McLeod, as I mentioned earlier, goes to this issue. He reports to the effect that, essentially, all the state of emergency achieved was to vest in the Australian Federal Police the capacity to evict-

Mr Smyth: The question was about warnings.

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