Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2943 ..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
But government needs to take its responsibility. There is a corresponding action with that responsibility. However, all too sadly this government's lackadaisical approach put our community in great danger, by the Chief Minister's own admissions and failings-he would stand by that, I am sure-knowing what it knew in relation to the fires of 2001.
McLeod, at page 175, talks of a higher profile campaign. It is still needed. I would have thought that we had a prime opportunity to educate and advise people. The government failed in its duty to do that after 2001. I believe Mr Quinlan even pooh-poohed the idea of more education. It seems now he was wrong. (Extension of time granted.)
Our community deserve to be treated with a little more compassion. They deserve to be treated with a little more intelligence. Our community deserve to be treated with more respect. Ah, respect! How about the lack of respect shown for our volunteers, Mr Speaker? I have talked to many who were on the frontline that day. Does the government truly believe that it has done enough in this area? Certainly, it has not. We are now some eight months down the track with still no formal recognition of our volunteers. They are having to come to grips not only with the events of that day, but also with a feeling of unworthiness, a lack of recognition. This is extremely alarming. The government must be held accountable for its inaction.
I support the motion put forward by Mr Smyth and supported by my colleagues in their calls to take this motion seriously and act accordingly. Censuring a government is a serious matter. Mr Speaker, I have no hesitation in censuring this government for failing to heed warnings that additional bushfire education was needed in the lead-up to the 2002-03 bushfire season, failing to implement recommendation 95 of the recommendations of the debriefs of the 2001 Stromlo fire, and telling the Assembly that its bushfire education programs were adequate when they clearly were not.
MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (4.03): Mr Speaker, every day when I drive home I drive past burnt houses on the street next to mine. Every weekend when I drive up towards Mount Stromlo, just a kilometre or so from my house, I see cleared blocks. Every day on my way to work I drive out onto Dixon Drive and see the very real impact of the fires on my neighbourhood.
I speak to my neighbours, I speak to people in the community, as do all members, and I speak to people whom I volunteer with in the local volunteer brigade-I speak to a range of people who have been directly and immediately impacted upon by these fires-and the overwhelming impression I get is not of the culture of blame that we have seen from the other side of this place. The overwhelming impression I get is of people who want to learn from what happened and make sure that it never happens again and people who want to make sure that those who have been most seriously affected, who have lost their loved ones, their homes or their possessions, are supported and assisted through the recovery process.
That has been the approach of the government as well-to look in detail at the issues that are faced by those communities most directly affected, to provide support to them and, at the same time, to look at what we did, what we did wrong, what we did right, and how we can make sure that we learn from that.