Page 3352 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 20 September 2005

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So, no, I cannot stand here and say that, in relation to any potential terrorist attack that I could conceive of, we have a capacity to respond appropriately. For instance, if there were a nuclear attack, I could not stand here and say that the ACT government has the capacity to respond to a nuclear attack upon the ACT; we do not. Those are the issues that we face and that occupy the thinking of the world.

In terms of the state of preparation, the training that we have in place and the work that we have done as a jurisdiction: I have confidence in the administrative and governmental arrangements that have been put in place by the ACT government, in collaboration and in very close consultation with the commonwealth, commonwealth agencies, across the border and in concert with other jurisdictions around Australia. It is something that has been done in full consultation with the commonwealth.

I have always made the point that one great advantage that we have in the ACT is that ACT Policing, who are the lead agency in relation to our response to terrorism and all other criminal behaviour, are an extension, at one level, of the Australian Federal Police. That gives us a very significant advantage in the ACT. Our police force is part of the police force that has overall responsibility as the lead agency for responding to terrorist threat or terrorist incidents in Australia.

We have in place a detailed structure. We have engaged in a range of exercises. We have been confronted, particularly through the white powder incidents, with real, live, on-the-ground terrorist-type incidents. We are, in fact, in that respect, the jurisdiction in Australia that has responded most directly to events that presented at the time as genuine. They, thankfully as it transpires, were not genuine, to the extent that the white powder did not contain what might have been feared at the time.

Our authorities, led by ACT Policing and supported by the Emergency Services Authority on all aspects of that, in close cooperation with the commonwealth, responded with great professionalism. The planning that had been undertaken kicked in seamlessly. Relationships between ACT authorities and commonwealth authorities worked as anticipated. We have learnt from that experience. We still have much work to do. The work is being done.

The question that the Leader of the Opposition raises in relation to the management of incidents that would require or would result in evacuation is an example of an area where more work can and will be done. As one can say always, there cannot be too much training; there cannot be too much analysis; there cannot be too much in the way of organisation in relation to any threat, whether it be terrorist or otherwise. We need to continue to work at our arrangements, our preparedness and our training.

MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.

Disaster planning

MR PRATT: My question is to the minister for emergency services. On the evening of Wednesday, 7 September 2005, there was a bomb scare when a suspicious package was left outside Eclipse House on London Circuit, opposite the Legislative Assembly building. The police cordoned off streets and evacuated nearby areas in their customary

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