Page 3591 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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That is eroding the community’s confidence in community safety. They want to see police officers on the street.

We have all seen the police advertisements: “It’s what you don’t see.” We all agree that it is what we do not see that is important. They do that work, and they do it very well. But they used to have a community presence that, firstly, raised their profile; secondly, got them the respect that they deserved and; thirdly, acted as a deterrent. On 7 May we had an incident here and yesterday the minister used some very glib and well-constructed words about what actually happened.

Mr Pratt has been trying to say that we have to have plans that work, coordination that works. From the Chief Minister we have had the “we’ve spent more money; therefore we’re better than you ever were” sort of approach. Well, there were fires in the ACT during Christmas 2001 and we did not lose any houses. The system that we left you worked. We all know what befell the ACT in January 2003.

The problem with the bomb scare the other night was that the incident action plan that the Chief Minister promised us would work did not work. The Waldorf was not informed; half the people in this building were not informed. I compliment you and your staff, Mr Speaker, for the way they took the matter in hand and did something that should have happened as a matter of course. The way we have had it relayed to us, the way that we have heard it from people who were in this room, is that, until the Assembly staff asked the question, the police did not know there were people in this building. It was a staff member undertaking to do his job properly and professionally that led to a sense of safety in the building, and well done to the staff.

The problem is that the incident accident plan model still must have in it standard operating procedures that guarantee safety, that look at the surrounding buildings, that do not evacuate half the building. How can you evacuate half a building? It is like being half pregnant. Somebody said, “Well, they were at the back of the building. Therefore it’s okay.” What if someone in the back of the building unknowingly moves to the front of the building because they have not been told? That is the problem.

We do not believe you should be publishing the plans. We do not believe you should be putting them out there so that people can view them and abuse them. But, as was said by a former SAS officer, if you are just going to rely on the fire evacuation plan for a building, then you are putting people at risk. That is the point that Mr Pratt has made consistently.

MR SPEAKER: The time for this discussion has now expired.


MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra): I seek leave to table a petition that has 917 signatures on it. It relates to Ginninderra district high school, and it calls on the government not to proceed with closing Ginninderra district high school until there has been proper community consultation.

Leave granted.

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