Page 2705 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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of all, if I can reflect back to Christmas 2001, I happened to be Minister for Emergency Services and we had a quite serious bushfire then. At that stage, I had inherited an Emergency Services Bureau with senior appointments from a previous government and I am presuming it was a structure in which the previous government had complete confidence. I am assuming that the appointments that were made within that bureau had the complete confidence of the previous government. In December 2001 we had a fire. It reached the city limits and burnt areas of Curtin, back fences in Curtin, but that is as far as it went. We collectively congratulated our Emergency Services Bureau on the sterling job that it had done and we effectively eulogised them, and the then opposition joined whole-heartedly in that.

Since then, for tawdry political gain, we have had a complete change of standard. We have seen an abominable exhibition of double standards across this house. We hear the opposition claiming that it represents victims of the bushfire. Whether or not the inquiries take a short or an extended period of time, they will come to a conclusion, but unless the nine people who initiated the appeal we are discussing now did it the way they did, their rights would have been trammelled totally. We have here an opposition with a double standard to the point that it is prepared to completely deny—not delay, but deny—the rights of nine people who genuinely believed they were being railroaded and who had expert opinion and support from an eminent jurist.

Mr Smyth: Table the opinion.

MR QUINLAN: The opinion does not need to be tabled, Mr Smyth. All you have to do is read the court transcript and you will get the full message out of that.

Mr Smyth: How can we be sure?

MR QUINLAN: It is in the application, for God’s sake. It is just nonsense you talk about and you are asking the government to not observe a convention in relation to legal advice, again for pure tawdry political advantage. This morning I have heard Mr Smyth on radio and seen him in the paper with a lot of breast beating, saying: we are doing this for the victims of the bushfire, or for the people who voted for us. I think, quite frankly, we have an opposition that wants to use the victims of the bushfires. Before the last election a couple of people in this place were making claims that legions of constituents were coming to them on this issue or that issue. The funny thing is the primary people who made those claims are incumbents who just struggled over the line, just squeaked in, in an election in which they should have done a whole lot better. So some of the claims of representing public opinion at that point are open to doubt.

Let us update that. The election of October last year took place after lodgment of the appeal against Coroner Doogan. So, it was in the public forum. Weston Creek was the area most affected by the bushfires. In the overall election this government received an increased vote of 5 per cent, as Mr Smyth and his party descended below the Liberals in Western Australia and the Northern Territory in proportion of first preference votes. They received an absolute flogging and were only protected by the Hare-Clark system. Mr Smyth got fewer votes than Dennis Burke and he fell on his sword.

Mr Smyth: Tell the full story.

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