Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2807 ..
MR CORNWELL (continuing):
tankers. I did not get a response from the Chief Minister, but that did not come as a surprise.
If you look at the McLeod report appendices you will see that some interesting questions arise from examining some of the information. For example, appendix D relates to Australian Defence Force assistance provided to the ACT for the January 2003 bushfires. May I commend the defence forces for the work that they have done, but what puzzles me is that the bulk of the assistance was provided after 18 January. If you look at this you will see that at least 50 per cent of the items listed were after 18 January and, indeed, seven water tankers appeared only on 16 January, two days before the real firestorm. I would have liked to have known whether they were requested beforehand and, if not, obviously why not.
I was interested to look at Appendix E, "Areas burnt in the ACT in the last 80 years". There are eight maps here and yet we are told that this fire was a once in a hundred year conflagration. I must have gone to the wrong school because it seems to me that eight into 80 gives you an average of about 10. Again, I have not had a real explanation as to why we are making one claim when in fact the evidence from these appendices suggests another.
I am also concerned about the information listed in appendix F that the ACT manages in the ESB headquarters 55 administrative staff and 78 operational staff. I would like a breakdown of that information. What do these people do at headquarters?
Finally I would like to have had information as to whether the adequate fire protection measures referred to in appendix H, the Australasian Fire Authorities Council position paper on community safety and evacuation during bushfires, in fact were put into operation, particularly those relating to evacuation considerations and information and warnings, which is shown at page 272.
I think these matters should be addressed. They have not been. I find that disappointing because I believe this would be in the interests of the people of the ACT-the people who were so complacent, I would remind my colleagues, according to the Chief Minister. I think they deserve answers to this so that, if for nothing else, their complacency can either be justified or not justified. Chief Minister, I look forward to my questions being addressed.
MR STEFANIAK (5.10): Mr Speaker, I think on the whole there is a lot of good things in this report, but it simply cannot say everything. It was done in too short a period of time and there are some gaps which obviously we still need to be answered. Indeed, we need some further explanations in the minutiae and the detail which Mr Cornwell has gone through.
I suppose, Mr Speaker, having been born here and having grown up here, I was probably not quite as complacent as the Chief Minister in thinking something like this would never happen. But I was still probably reasonably complacent. It is difficult to imagine a fire sweeping through an urban area of Canberra, taking out 500 houses and killing four people. I think for that very reason, and especially because it did take the lives of four people, we need to do all we can to make sure it never happens again. If, indeed, people, parts of organisations or organisations did not do as well as they could