Page 2893 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 August 2005

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backflip in the last three weeks and when will you brief the community on how to evacuate in the event of an emergency?

MR STANHOPE: In the long preamble to the question there were a number of assertions, some of which I acknowledge, some of which I reject and some of which simply do not follow logically or are invalid assumptions about things that I have said or positions I have taken in relation to CCTV cameras or security generally. The concern I expressed about knee-jerk responses to terrorism was a response to the fact that governments, led by the commonwealth, have been cooperating very closely over a number of years in the development of a range of security responses as a result of the international security situation that we face—the terrorist attacks that have become a scourge around the world. We work in a methodical, coherent, structured way through agencies, programs and policies that have been developed in cooperation with governments over the last three to four years.

It does concern me that in light of the very structured processes and arrangements that have been put in place that the Prime Minister from afar, as a result of an apparent observation of police work post-bomb in London, suddenly had a brainwave that he had seen and experienced things that suggested to him that what we now needed was a national identity card. The first of the pronouncements from Lords—that is, the cricket ground—was that the first thing we needed was a national identity card. At the COAG meeting that I attended on, I think, 1 June or 2 June, the issue of a national identity card was specifically raised and rejected by the Prime Minister and premiers. Yet six weeks after a COAG meeting—attended by the Prime Minister, chaired by the Prime Minister, on an agenda submitted by the Prime Minister, where the issue of a national identity card was raised and explicitly dismissed—the Prime Minister, in a pronouncement, in company I do admit with some of my state colleagues, said that the way forward was to pursue that. That is what concerned me, Mr Pratt, and that is what I was responding to: knee-jerk responses to fulfil a perceived political need.

I attended a meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, in the first week of June, at which the question of a national identity card was raised and dismissed as not relevant. Six weeks later, the Prime Minister raises it again from afar and says that it is now something we should pursue. You tell me that there is not just a touch of adhockery in that. There is, and that is what concerned me: that, around a table at a meeting of leaders, a specific initiative is dismissed as not relevant or not appropriate and yet within six weeks it is suddenly appropriate and must be debated. That is adhockery. That is knee-jerk decision making. That was the point I was making, and I stand by it. That was adhockery and that was a knee-jerk response to the major issues that we face in relation to security.

Mr Smyth: Oh! So why did you change your mind?

MR STANHOPE: It was in the context of comments about national identity cards and the fact that “Oh, we need to investigate this.” It is interesting that the Prime Minister has gone silent on both proposals. To the extent that the issue of CCTV cameras is now being pursued at officer level with the commonwealth, suddenly—particularly when the question of costs and resourcing has been raised with the commonwealth—there has been a touch less enthusiasm from the commonwealth in relation to CCTV cameras and their utility than one would have been led to believe at the time that the statements were being made.

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