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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2946 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, this motion is unwarranted and it is unfair. It is a motion which simply seeks to apportion blame for political advantage. It is not the sort of response our community would expect to the worst natural disaster our city has ever faced.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Environment and Minister for Community Affairs) (4.14): Mr Speaker, I endorse all of the sentiments just expressed by my colleague Mr Corbell, and expressed extremely well, as somebody who is a member of a volunteer brigade and who lives in the affected Weston Creek community. Mr Corbell touched poignantly on all of the points in this debate that I would seek to make.

I do not propose to speak at length. I do wish to address particular points of the motion that has been moved today by the Liberal Party. Suffice it to say that I reiterate the point just made by Mr Corbell that the government has absolutely nothing to hide, nor does it have any desire to hide anything. Our approach from day one has been to be open and to explain fully, to the extent that we have it within our capacity to do so, events as we saw them unfold.

We put in place an independent inquiry. We chose for that somebody of unquestionable integrity and independence and somebody unknown to me in a personal sense. He was selected for that particular task because of his experience, because of his integrity and because of his independence. He has produced, I think, an excellent report which is independent, objective and rigorous and which forces us to face some hard issues in relation to the events that did occur and the way in which we responded to them and handled them. There are significant numbers of lessons there for us to learn and we are learning them.

We have responded quickly to those. We have been criticised around the chamber for the alacrity with which we have responded. I can understand the point that has been made in relation to that, but I do ask all members of this place to put themselves in the shoes of the residents of Canberra who do experience high levels of alarm and concern, who are anxious about the upcoming fire season. The government was mindful in its fast response to these issues of the needs of the people of Canberra.

There are continuing high levels of concern and anxiety in this community about our fragility in the face of fire. The government is responding to the needs of the people of Canberra in the way that we have established the terms of reference, the timeframe, and now our determination to respond speedily and effectively to the recommendations that are laid before us. That is why we responded in the way that we did, that is why we responded fast and that is why we are moving fast.

We have a responsibility to respond to the needs of the community, we have a responsibility as a government to respond to the levels of concern and anxiety that exist within this community. We will respond to the needs of the community and we will do so in the face of the criticism that we are working too fast for some in this place.

I can assure you that we are not working too fast for the people of this community, for the people of Canberra, for those people who still have high levels of concern, who remain traumatised by the events of last summer. The suggestion that we should go

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