Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2799 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
much a responsible manner as we could, bearing in mind that we are dealing with nature.
MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (4.33): Mr Speaker, I will only speak briefly in this debate. As someone who has not publicly been too heavily involved in the debate around the fire and the response to the events of 18 January, this debate is an opportunity to put some of my thoughts on the record.
Mr Speaker, the government's response to the McLeod report is one which, first of all, expresses confidence in the process that Mr McLeod has used in undertaking his report. I do not think there can be any question as to the thoroughness or the scope and attention to detail that Mr McLeod has applied in the relatively short period of time he has had available to him to provide advice and recommendations to the government on how to best prepare for the future fire seasons, and in particular the fire season coming towards us this year over the Christmas-New Year period.
What has concerned me greatly over the past three to four weeks in particular has been the focus on "someone must be at fault", and that they are so at fault that they must be removed, they must be taken away from positions of responsibility. Mr Speaker, what occurred on 18 January was an awful and horrible event, and I think we all share that sense when we discuss these matters, although I note that perhaps the immediacy of the awfulness and the horribleness of that event is receding in the minds of at least some members.
Mr Speaker, I think the McLeod inquiry report is very powerful in its emphasis that first of all we must be responsible and we must learn from our mistakes. That is the tenor of Mr McLeod's findings-accept the responsibility where we have failed to learn from past mistakes and accept the responsibility to learn now for the future. That I think is the essence of the government's reply-to say yes, mistakes were made. But you cannot point the finger at any one individual or even at any one particular group of individuals and say because of their failures the events of 18 January occurred.
Mr McLeod acknowledges the complexity and the element of chaos which is implicit in what occurred leading up to and on 18 January and the fact that so many individuals in so many different roles were involved. He makes the point that to address these issues we must learn-we must learn as a community ways to do it better, learn as a community ways to protect ourselves better, learn as a community that we can be much more proactive in addressing the risk of fire on the urban area of Canberra and, indeed, the rural area of the ACT. The government's response is to say we accept that that is the direction we must take-to learn, to accept the responsibility to learn, and to accept the responsibility to ensure that as much can be done to prevent this occurring into the future.
When you look through the government's responses to all the recommendations of Mr McLeod, it is quite clear that the government has acted in a decisive manner. Mr McLeod recommends additional capacity to fight fires and the government is going to resource that. Mr McLeod recommends that additional intelligence gathering and analysis capacity be available to ensure that fires can be fought effectively. The government accepts the recommendation and is funding it so it can be done. Mr McLeod recommends that approaches to fuel management be more rigorously