Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2940 ..
MR CORNWELL (continuing):
taking full responsibility, you also have to accept the consequences. I have not seen any evidence of your accepting the consequences. You may claim to accept the responsibilities, but you have not yet accepted the responsibilities, that is still in the future.
The second point I would make is about the claim that the people of the ACT were complacent about these matters. Mr Stanhope, I would suggest that this attempt to involve everyone else in the ACT in your attitude ill-becomes you. I do not believe that the people of the ACT were necessarily complacent. I would suggest that before you use that term in future you look up a decent dictionary, because what you are really talking about was not complacency, as my colleague Mr Smyth said earlier today. People were not complacent in the ACT prior to the bushfires of 18 January; they were simply unaware. There is a great difference between being complacent and being unaware.
Do you think that the people of Weston Creek who suffered so grievously could possibly be accused of being complacent? That is an insult. It is an insult to all the people in the ACT, but it is a particular insult to the people of Weston Creek and an even greater one to those who suffered and lost homes and in some cases family members. There was no complacency involved in this regard; it was a lack of awareness. Had they been aware of the threats posed to them they certainly would not have been complacent. I think that this is something that Mr Stanhope needs to bear in mind before he throws that word around so loosely on future occasions. I believe, therefore, that the motion put forward by my colleague and leader, Mr Smyth, and the censure incorporated in it is accurate and should be supported.
MRS BURKE (3.51): Mr Speaker, many things have been said over and over and I do not wish to belabour the point, but this subject is worthy of debate in terms of the motion put forward by Mr Smyth.
In an interview with Louise Maher on 2CN on 31 January of this year, Mr Stanhope did say, "This government has no desire to hide anything. I don't want anything hidden."Chief Minister, I was pleased to hear those words. Obviously, you will not mind if we of the opposition continue to pursue our inquiries. We are the watchdogs and we will take your advice and continue to ensure that nothing is hidden. We will leave no stone unturned.
My question to the Chief Minister is: how can people be complacent when they are unaware of what is expected of them in an emergency? My colleague Mr Cornwell has just mentioned that. I have thought long and hard about what you said and I think that there is a wrong implication for people there. People just were not complacent.
Does the Chief Minister think that people would have gone on holidays, shopping, out for a coffee or lunch, or simply done nothing knowing that their house was about to be burnt down? I do not think so. It is simply absurd yet crass and downright insulting, I would have to add, to say that, particularly when the community's expectation is that the government and associated personnel have the procedural matters under control.
There is a level and degree of trust that comes with governments and associated personnel. We place our trust in elected members, particularly in people in leadership