Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2953 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
I would have hoped that this government, after what it said, would have no difficulty with paragraphs (1) to (4).
Paragraph (1) calls on the government not to implement the proposed Emergency Services Authority until the government has consulted with a number of groups. Mr Stanhope has just gone off to consult with one of those groups. He seemed to indicate, if I heard him right, that he would certainly be consulting with them. He seems to accept that point. I think he misses the point in terms of Mr Pratt's bill in that it is something that should help the government to consult in relation to the proposed Emergency Services Authority.
What is the proper type of authority to have? What do we need? Mr Pratt's bill, without wanting to get into further debate on it, is, to my understanding, along the lines of what the key players want. As to Mr Stanhope's point about how we could bring forward this motion when we have put forward Mr Pratt's bill, Mr Pratt's bill should help the government in its consultation process. I did hear the Chief Minister say that he is consulting, so how can the government not support paragraph (1)?
Turning to paragraph (2), I think I heard him say, in terms of increasing services to those in the community affected by the disaster rather than decreasing or removing services, that the government denied that it was decreasing or removing services, that the government was providing services to those in the community affected by the bushfire. How could the government not support a motion which says that, where appropriate, those services should be increased?
As to outlining to the Assembly by the close of business tomorrow the government's assessment of the future needs of those affected by the bushfires in regard to counselling and other services, I thought I heard the government say that it was providing counselling services and doing so within a day of being requested to do so. What is the problem there with the government accepting paragraph (3)? By the government's own admission, it is doing these things already. Surely that is not a huge ask of the government.
The Chief Minister stated in relation to paragraph (4) that he had written to 2,500 volunteers, and so he should. I am delighted he has. He highlighted that in awards coming up-Australia Day awards, et cetera-no doubt many wonderful people will be rewarded. Why not look to provide other suitable recognition to volunteers, emergency services personnel and community groups? My colleague Mr Smyth has made some excellent suggestions about how people in our community who performed so magnificently in January of this year could be further honoured. What is wrong with the government supporting that?
I come now to censuring the government. In doing so, I address my remarks more to the crossbench members. I do not understand why people should be so wary about doing so, why people should be so accepting of some of the government's propaganda. The Assembly does not have many avenues open to it to express its concern. Ms Dundas has circulated an amendment expressing concern, but will not proceed with it. The first step often is a censure motion. As Mr Smyth has said, we do not take this step lightly.