Page 209 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 8 December 2004
of the 2003 report in which the Auditor-General found the Emergency Services Bureau to be dysfunctional. We now know that the Auditor-General was right and the Attorney-General was wrong.
I am not talking about a professional disagreement on the part of the Attorney-General. That would be entirely acceptable. I am talking about an arrogant, sneering political attack on the Benton report—a substantive and very important report. That was unacceptable behaviour by the first law officer in respect of a legal and administrative procedure.
The Attorney-General has failed the ACT community by not making sure that no stone is left unturned in drilling down to the truth. The Attorney-General should have been sure that no stone was left unturned in all of the legal mechanisms available to this community to identify, to analyse and to take the lessons from the emergency that we had. The Attorney-General had a role to ensure that everything that could be done was done and done quickly. We needed to find the truth on what emergency systems failed in January 2003. We needed to find the truth on why the failings of previous years were not identified and rectified before January 2003.
The Attorney-General also failed in terms of the McLeod inquiry. The McLeod inquiry was barely adequate. The Attorney-General had a legal duty to ensure that the McLeod inquiry had teeth and was properly equipped to ensure that all the ground would be covered. Four people died, 490-odd houses were lost and a large amount of money was lost in terms of property damage. You do not have the trauma that this community suffered and you do not have such disaster occurring without the government of the day making sure that no stone is left unturned in such an inquiry. The Attorney-General had a duty of care and a duty of responsibility to make sure that the McLeod inquiry was properly equipped to get to the bottom of everything, and the Attorney-General did not.
Furthermore, the Attorney-General has failed the community and its legal system because he has put the narrow interests of his political power base before the greater good of the ACT community. He has lacked any urgency in ensuring that important emergency matters are addressed. The Attorney-General, as first law officer, has put the extremely narrow interests, important as they may be, before the broader safety needs of our community. You cannot as Attorney-General have tunnel vision. We need an Attorney-General who ranges across all the functions of the ACT and has a broader vision. Leadership and a broader vision are required. This Attorney-General does not have that; he is narrow of scope.
Mr Speaker, I put it to you that the Chief Minister is not capable of performing the role of Attorney-General. Therefore, I say to you that he is not fit to perform that role.
Motion (by Mr Corbell) moved:
That the question be now put.
The Assembly voted—