Page 3098 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 23 August 2005

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the general emergency, general evacuation plan or even the bushfire general evacuation plan. In response to Mr Stefaniak’s question, Mr Stanhope said:

I am advised, in fact, by Commissioner Peter Dunn, the Commissioner for the Emergency Services Authority … we are the only jurisdiction that has in place a disaster response plan or an evacuation plan that gives us the capacity to respond to both natural and man-made—in other words, terrorist—actions within this jurisdiction.

Those are Mr Stanhope’s words. The point here is that today, when we sought clarification of this matter, the Chief Minister really split hairs and started to shift ground on what he actually did say or what he is actually planning. He said it was “a question of terminology”. He said that we really are talking about “broad emergency management plans” and that these were “virtually completed”. Now, this is all broadside targeting, obfuscation, smoke and mirrors so that we do not get down to the nitty-gritty of what is essentially an important issue—whether the community has been briefed and warned by this government about the terrorist threat evacuation plans in high risk areas across the ACT.

Just to follow up on that, I thought I would read the memo prepared by the SES to really illustrate what the circumstances are regarding where the hell we are at with the terrorist threat evacuation plan. The memo states:

Commanders et al

There have been some discussions recently about evacuation planning and how evacuations might be carried out in Canberra and the major town centres if such a situation was warranted. Some volunteers have raised with me the approach that NSW has taken in relation to the SES and RFS volunteers in the Sydney CBD taking formal part in evacuations of the CBD, and whether or not there might be a similar role for ACTSES volunteers in Canberra.

The memo goes on:

I met with Peter Dunn this morning to discuss the whole issue of evacuations. Included in our discussions were:

the need for comprehensive evacuation planning to be undertaken,

need to have predetermined evacuation centres identified,

role of the ACTSES in conducting evacuations,

need for commercial buildings to have evacuation plans and have appointed building wardens to assist with evacuations.

The writer goes on and makes some very good points. Clearly, he is saying, “Let’s get our act together. These are the issues that we need to come to grips with. These are the issues that need to be identified. Where are we at with this?” This memo is proof concrete that this government and its agencies, its senior authorities, have not really begun putting these terrorist threat evacuation plans in place.

The Chief Minister was quite right today when he said that we are not talking about a general evacuation that fits all contingencies. We are definitely talking about bushfire evacuation plans, other natural disaster evacuation plans and certainly terrorist threat

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