Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2955 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
adequate whereas, obviously, they left something to be desired. The areas of censure are limited, but on all the evidence the case quite clearly has been proven.
Members made some excellent points in relation to that. A very good point was made by Mrs Cross when she said that the people of Australia are not panickers; they are stoic doers. I think that it was painfully obvious to everyone that when warnings were given the people of Canberra responded magnificently. The people responded magnificently with virtually no warning on 18 January. Certainly, the steps taken when other areas were threatened and, thankfully, nothing happened after 18 January just showed how responsible the people were, how stoic they were, how they got in there and helped their neighbours and made sure that their neighbours were right.
We saw that on the day and in an even more organised and able fashion when people were given some warning. It is an old adage that if you trust people, give people clear information, clear guidance, as to what they can do, what can be done to help them, what they should do, invariably they will come through with flying colours. (Extension of time granted.) The point that Mrs Cross made there was a very good one.
Mr Speaker, I will not go on any further in relation to this motion. It is quite clear that the government did have warnings as a result of the fire in December 2001. There was a need for it to heed those warnings with additional bushfire education and with additional warnings to people, as occurred in 2001. Why on earth wasn't that done this time? There were some areas in which the government did not do what a reasonable, prudent person would expect a government to do. In that respect, the government has failed in its responsibility in these specific areas and, for that reason, is worthy of censure.
MRS DUNNE (4.51): Mr Speaker, this is an important debate because it goes to the heart of the recovery of our community and it goes to the heart of what is expected of governments. Mr Smyth's motion today is in seven parts, as has been discussed, and covers some of the issues relating to our recovery from the bushfire and learning the lessons of the bushfire of January 2001.
When everyone's blood was up before lunch we had members of the government coming in here and uttering contemptible things about this opposition and what we were trying to do. Mr Quinlan said that we were trying to get down and get dirty. There has been no dirt from this side of the house on this fire matter. The matter of the fire is one that goes deeply to the heart of every Canberran and there has been no muckraking, there has been no dirt, there has been no calling for heads on plates and there has been no baying for blood. This opposition is not getting down and getting dirty.
A constant theme here is the Goebbels theory of propaganda, the one big lie, that if you keep saying something often enough people will believe it. I do not know how many times today I heard Mr Wood and Mr Quinlan in particular-I have to say that I was quite pleased at the restrained and thoughtful approach by Mr Corbell in contrast-speaking of things like the culture of blame, getting down and getting dirty, and struggling for relevance.