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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2898 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I think what we have here is a failure of government. If a minister is responsible for a portfolio and something goes wrong and he was not aware that there was a problem then he has a responsibility to fix it. If a minister is warned that something is required and ignores that warning and something goes wrong then he must take responsibility for what has occurred.

Mr Speaker, the dictionary defines "responsibility"as "liable to be called to account,"and that is what the opposition is doing today on the sole issue of bushfire education. We are calling the government to account. We are calling on the government to answer why they said in such derogatory tones that the motion calling for additional education in schools and, in the context of the motion, obviously in the general community, was unwarranted, uninformed and unnecessary. I think from the lessons of 18 January 2003 it is quite clear that Mr Corbell was just simply wrong, wrong, wrong.

If you want to focus simply on the schools, which I am sure is what those opposite will do, we have to ask the question: were the programs that they had in place adequate? And I think the answer is no, they weren't either. You then want to go to the whole question of who is responsible here. It is those opposite that seem fixated with the word "blame". It is those opposite who actually name public servants as potential candidates for blame and getting the chop.

I would like people to note, and I want it on the record, Mr Speaker, that no-one on this side has called for heads. What we have called for is the truth. We want to know what actually happened. We were meant to get an unfolding of this in the McLeod report, the report that was to leave no stone unturned, but by its own admission on page 1, it is an overview of events, it does not deal in detail. In the days after the bushfires I told people to stop bitching and let the service and the government get on with their job. I said that we would wait for the reviews and the inquiries to unfold what had happened, but that we would be their watchdog and make sure that all their questions were answered. Mr Speaker, the community wants to know why their questions are not being answered.

The first four points of the motion that I have moved raise some general concerns out in the community. The motion also censures the government. When the government was warned by not just the opposition but their own Emergency Services Bureau about the need for better public education and emergency management-exactly the words that Mr Pratt used-and the responsibilities of the community to back up the Emergency Services Bureau, the government laughed, they scoffed, they derided the opposition. Mr Quinlan said:

... you can't get enough of a good thing and, as Mr Smyth rightly pointed out, more would be better-

now there is an admission from Mr Quinlan, that more would be better-

but it is the easiest of politics, even though something is happening, to say, "Let's have some more,"and we have seen some pretty easy and lazy politics this week in this place.

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