Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2899 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
But the critical thing is that Mr Quinlan himself admits more would be better, and the easiest of politics was to ignore the warning. The government took the easy route on this and were negligent in their responsibilities to the people of Canberra.
Mr Speaker, the public, through their elected representatives in this place-and we raised this here in November last year-said they thought more community education was necessary; they thought more community education, particularly in schools, was necessary. The government's own Emergency Service Bureau, through recommendation 95 in relation to the 2001 Christmas fires, also said that there should be better public education about their responsibilities. Not only was the community ignored, not only was the opposition ignored, but the government ignored the advice from their own department that something must be done, and on that, and that alone, Mr Speaker, they should be censured.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (11.33): First, Mr Speaker, let me say that the government recognises that people did suffer considerable hurt in the bushfires and that some people will require considerable assistance in the recovery process. There will be cases that you could reach out and quote, but it would I think be facile in the extreme to draw conclusions relating to everybody from a couple of genuine cases.
We do actually need to be conscious of the fact that the general recognition across the community has been that the government has acted in an exemplary fashion. The community has generally accepted that. The Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope, has achieved a status within this community unparalleled by any of his predecessors, to the point of receiving a standing ovation for walking into a restaurant. I am sure that status is something that the opposition would lust after or would like to tarnish, but I am sorry, it is there.
What I want to do is cut to the chase. I observed yesterday that the opposition has had, in recent times, a retreat, obviously to work through tactics, and that they have made the decision, "Hell or bust: let's get down and dirty. Let's try to make something out of this bushfire."
A lot of the observations that came out of the bushfire after the bushfire were to the effect that, in adversity, the Canberra community had come together, that Canberra had grown up, that Canberra had shown the rest of the nation and, in fact, the world its soul, the soul that it had always had. It brought Canberrans together.
Let me say it quite clearly brought nearly all Canberrans together, but we have a group with a different agenda, an agenda of political advantage that is not together with the community on this. This group is working and continually trying to convince people that there is foment out there in the community, when there is not. I think that is quite destructive and demeaning to a lot of the people who have been through the recovery process and who are still going through the recovery process.
Yes, we know how to suck eggs, Mr Smyth, we do know that there will be a six-month period, there will be a 12-month period. That has been taken into account. People have been writing to newspapers and thanking the recovery centre for