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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2959 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

after 2001. But at this stage we have to censure this government for failing to learn those lessons.

Ordered that the question be divided.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (5.07), in reply: A lot of spin has been put on what is happening here today. I want to address what some members have said before I speak on behalf of the community in terms of what they are telling me.

I thank Ms Tucker for coming back to the chamber. She did say at some stage that perhaps the previous government was accountable. We have said that we take responsibility for the bits we may or may not have done or what we may or may not have done as well as we could have. But we did do much on coming to government in setting up the ESB and implementing the recommendations of the McBeth report. We set up the Emergency Management Act following the 1994-95 fires in Sydney to which we sent units. We upgraded equipment and fire sheds and we implemented training. I could go on about the things we did. There was money for communication systems and there was extra money for ESB. I could go on and on. But things were done.

The issue of dividing the community is something that I want to talk about. If you raise a point contrary to the thinking of the government, you are attempting to divide the community. I think the community is divided. I do not think it is divided in a nasty way and I do not think it is divided in an aggressive way against each part, but a large part of the community can actually move on because it has not been directly affected by the fires.

It is that sort of burnout that Lieutenant Colonel Don Woodland spoke about. This was not being said by me. This was a Salvation Army specialist saying that the people who were affected are locked into the recovery process and are battling red tape and insurance companies, whereas other parts of the community are able to move on. The Salvation Army specialist is seeking a meeting with Mr Stanhope, claiming the government's assessment that the recovery process is going well is not correct. That is being said by an independent expert in recovery. Another expert, Rob Gordon, said exactly the same thing. He said that after six months the rest of the community was moving on from the disaster but victims could not and that often those who had been coping so well until then were feeling very exhausted and that needed to be respected.

Ms Tucker asked whether services had been cut as she had missed that part of the debate. For her benefit, I will read the following email:

At present, our children have to wait a fortnight for an appointment with our assigned counsellor simply because there are not enough counsellors and because the needs are increasing. Further, their government school has discontinued counselling.

I believe that at that school there are six or seven children who were victims of the fire and who now go to that school because they have moved out of the affected areas.

Mr Corbell, who spoke quite well, talked about the opposition wanting to pursue a culture of blame and the government trying to heal the community. He said that we

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