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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2909 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

On top of this comment, the Chief Minister has said that warnings were carried in the media. Yes, warnings were in the media, but they did not carry the sense of urgency that they should have, no doubt for the reasons the ESB has put forward-fear of panic. Communication with the people has to be honest and direct, without any hedging of bets. It is not the media's responsibility to initiate such communication or embellish it. In the end, it is the government, through its leader, that should be communicating. When it comes to declaring a state of emergency that, too, should come from the leader, the one who is ultimately responsible to the community.

Mr Speaker, despite the efforts to get things off the page, to put things behind us, not to blame anyone and to just move on, that is not the way things are going to pan out. There is considerable dismay at the nature of the failures that occurred: not so much about the inability to stem such a violent fire, as about the attempts to cocoon the people from knowing the reality.

Chickens always come home to roost. No matter how much we jump up and down and try to shoo them away; no matter how much evasion of responsibility the Chief Minister engages in; no matter how much diffusion of responsibility he encourages; no matter how quickly he just wants to put it all behind him; no matter how much name calling he engages in and how many nasty comments he makes, which he does frequently in this place; and no matter what his concerns for his own person are, the one clear fact that stands out like a blackened old gum amid the devastation is that the leader failed the test of leadership. That fact cannot be obscured.

The Chief Minister must acknowledge it because it will not go away. I asked him yesterday, "Where does the buck stop, Chief Minister?"I will tell him, Mr Speaker, through you. It stops with him, the Chief Minister.

MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (12.08): Mr Speaker, the opposition is struggling for relevance. It is trying to get into the act. It is clearly disorganised, it is stumbling, it is desperate and it is totally irrelevant. A good number of its comments are based on the frustration that flows from that. Obviously, some are simply based on ignorance, on lack of knowledge, on not having the details in their minds. This motion itself is clear evidence of that.

How seriously do we regard this motion? Mr Smyth, when he spoke, said that censure motions are serious business. Yes, true; there is no doubt about that. He said that this is the first by this opposition against this government so, yes, the words say, "Take it seriously", but not the actions they take. "This is something very serious", says the opposition. You would think that you would move that on the first sitting day of a session. No, it is not very serious, so we can wait until private members business on day two. I do not think that is the normal practice with censure motions.

How serious is it? We are doing it on this day and it is such a serious motion that it just sits there down the list. It is not something we want to take on at the beginning of business, just let it arise with the routine-

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