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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2795 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

We all observe that hindsight is a precise science and it has become far more precise as time goes by. I have not been involved in the bushfire debate all that much since January but I have observed the opposition skulking around the issue, just nibbling, seeing how far they can go, trying to illicit some political advantage from a disaster that did hit the ACT community.

I am not sure, but I understand that the Liberals had a retreat recently, and from question time today it is quite clear that they have decided that Stanhope, that swine Stanhope, has gained a stature in the community unparalleled in the ACT to date and that must hurt to the point where they have said, "Let's gamble the lot. Let's get down and get dirty. How many different ways can we imply that this disaster was the fault of the government? How many different ways can we beat our breasts and talk about the questions to which the community are clamouring for answers?"Remember, these people on this side of the house do actually talk to the community as well. They said, "How many questions can we invent that the community is clamouring for answers for to imply that this disaster is down to the government?"

In fact, I find the exercise, as I have watched it, quite disgusting. Let me refer to some of the things that Mr Pratt said. Mr Pratt referred to a debate on 13 November last year in which I think he was moving that we have a fire education program in schools. That was the sum total of what Mr Pratt was recommending. However, all of a sudden, that has turned into wondrous foresight that was ignored totally.

Mrs Burke: You did not want any.

MR QUINLAN: Let me read from Hansard, quoting Mr Pratt. "I believe that all ACT residents can be satisfied that our emergency services have done all that they can possibly do to prepare for this dangerous season,"quoth Mr Pratt. In short, the emergency services have done as much as they can possibly do. That was the foresight on that side of the house. In the space of eight months, slavering for some petty political advantage, you are prepared to come into this place and misrepresent what you said in this place.

You said this, in this place, Mr Pratt. You said that virtually everything that could possibly be done, had been done. You argued one single point: you argued for a program in schools.

Mr Pratt: Put that in context, Ted.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Please direct your comments through the chair. Mr Pratt, stop interjecting.

Mr Stanhope: I think what he is saying, Steve, is that you are lying.

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, order!

Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: that is entirely unparliamentary and I want it withdrawn.

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