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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2912 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

a disaster, but the outcome has been handled well. They want to break ranks, I believe, to try to claim a place in this community. Well, the place they are trying to claim is a thoroughly disreputable one.

This motion is disreputable, and I do not think there is anything in it that calls for support.

MS TUCKER (12.19): I will still be listening to the rest of the debate, because I have not understood some of what the Liberals are saying in their motion or heard responses from Labor. We may support parts of the motion, but I foreshadow that I will be moving that the motion be handled in sections, so that it is possible for members to support sections of it.

I do have to echo the concerns that have just been expressed by Mr Wood: I think it is very disappointing that the opposition is insisting on looking for political blood instead of showing leadership in this very difficult time for Canberra, when many people are distressed and fearful.

There has been acknowledgment from both sides of this Assembly that there was complacency and inaction. We do not need to be censuring people now, we need to be showing that we can work together to ensure the safety of people and property in the next fire season. I have had people from the community tell me they want heads to roll and political blood. I have had other people also tell me how distressing they find the acrimonious atmosphere, particularly the political atmosphere, but also generally in public debate to an extent, since the fires.

It is, of course, a predictable thing after a crisis. People stick together during and immediately after the event, and we were all very inspired by the community spirit that was demonstrated. It is actually what usually happens in a crisis. I do not think it is particularly a characteristic of Canberra or of Australians. It is about humans, and when they are put into that sort of situation they tend to work together, and we see incredible bravery and heroism occurring.

What is interesting to see is what happens after the event. There have been plenty of those kinds of sociological analyses done. What can happen is what is happening now: it all falls apart because the people are working out their grief and their anger. The anger comes from the grief, and there is blaming and the sorts of things that are happening now.

What you need to have happen then is leadership, which will actually show people how they can work through the trauma of what has happened in a positive way to actually produce a positive outcome.

I will move through the points now. It is in that spirit, with regard to the first point, that I have asked Labor, Liberal and crossbench members to be involved in a round table discussion on the structure of the emergency services authority. I assume it was in that spirit that they agreed. I know that that request is supported by the stakeholders, including the volunteer fire fighters, the urban fire fighters and many people in the community who contacted me after they saw that I was asking for that to occur.

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