Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2781 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
heavy loss of private and public property. The event was of a scale ranking as one of Australia's worst single-day natural disasters.
In February 2003, in recognition of the need to quickly understand the lessons of this terrible event, the government commissioned an inquiry into the preparation for, and the operational response to, those bushfires by the ACT's emergency services organisations. The principal aims of the inquiry were to ensure that the lessons of this devastating event were effectively learnt, and to identify improvements that would both minimise the risk of, and enhance the ACT's capacity to respond effectively to, events of this kind in the future.
The inquiry undertaken by the former Commonwealth Ombudsman, Mr Ron McLeod, provided its report to the government on 1 August 2003. I publicly released the report on 4 August 2003. The government has now considered Mr McLeod's report and its recommendations in detail.
The government response, which I also table today, provides details of the measures that have been taken to give effect to each recommendation, as well as a number of additional initiatives that the government is taking to improve operational performance. This government response is supported by a supplementary appropriation bill, which includes the necessary additional funding for the implementation of the inquiry's recommendations and related initiatives.
As I have stated before, the McLeod report is critical of many aspects of the operational response to the January fires. Equally, the report acknowledges the personal commitment of the many people involved in the bushfire crisis and, since then, in the recovery phase. As I said when I released the report on 4 August, my government is committed to implementing the 61 recommendations of the report as quickly as possible.
Both from studying the report and from its own observations, the government has learnt many lessons from the experiences in January and is continuing to take all the actions it can to ensure that these are fully understood and addressed. Mr McLeod's report provides a particularly valuable contribution through its recording and assessment of these lessons, and by articulating specific future directions and actions.
The coronial inquiry into the cause and origin of the January 2003 bushfires and the inquests into the manner and cause of the four associated deaths will produce a separate report. The government looks forward to the receipt of the coroner's report and will then address any additional findings and recommendations at that time.
The actions that the government is taking in response to Mr McLeod's report, and the additional measures that the government is committed to, can be grouped broadly into five key themes of fire mitigation, improved emergency response capability, communications and public information, operational procedures and policy and organisational and legislative change. I will now outline the principal issues and government actions for each of these key themes.
Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt the Chief Minister. The report has not been circulated and it is normally the practice in this