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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2791 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I am concerned that there is no debate to be allowed on McLeod, that we do rush forward. I think that, before the recommendations were just accepted out of hand, we all should have taken a critical look at the report, an objective look at it, to determine which recommendations would fit the ACT and which would not. Based on that and discussion with the community, we should then move forward as quickly as we can to ensure that the ACT has the emergency services that it deserves and needs, particularly to combat the coming fire season but, indeed, to face all emergencies as they emerge over the years.

MR PRATT (4.02): Mr Speaker, my take on this report and the process is that Mr Ron McLeod carried out his duties quite professionally, but that he carried them out in accordance with the instructions handed down by the government.

I find his report is comprehensive. It is a well-written report. It is quite a useful report but, alas, it is incomplete. We all agree that the January 2003 bushfires were important, they were serious and they were devastating. However, what the government does not agree with is the importance and the seriousness of the role played by the devastating December 2001 bushfires in warning this community. I will return to that matter shortly.

I will just go back and look at the estimates hearings recently and the bearing that this inquiry had on the conduct of those hearings. I refer specifically to Mr Wood's stonewalling in that period. Throughout the 2003 estimates hearings, Mr Wood was asked numerous questions about the January 2003 bushfires. His answer was always the same: "McLeod". Mr Wood would not answer a question unless he could say "McLeod. Wait until the McLeod report. The McLeod report will answer all the questions."However, the fact is that Mr Wood was quite wrong, because the inquiry has not answered all those questions that we put to Mr Wood in the estimates hearings.

I remind the Assembly, I remind my colleagues here, that the estimates hearings were legitimate places in which the opposition could carry out its duty by asking the government questions that the community was asking us in relation to the January 2003 fires. We were continually told that we would have to wait until the McLeod report to have those questions answered, but the McLeod report has not always answered those questions.

It certainly answered some of those questions and it certainly answered some of those questions quite well, but many it has not touched on. All I can say to Mr Wood and the government is this: the long and detailed list of questions that we put to the government about the January 2003 fires will be diligently pursued, because that is what the community wants us to do. They are the questions that the community has been putting to us for quite some time. Ensuring this community's safety in the face of future bushfire threats requires that we get down to the bottom of those questions.

I would have to say that the inquiry did fail to answer a number of the questions that Canberrans were promised would be answered. In defence of the report, however, as I said earlier, I will say that it has proven to be very useful in highlighting the mistakes that were made by various parties involved in the bushfires. Of course, it did not answer all of the questions that Canberrans have. While it is a thorough and

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