Page 3747 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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it was of the states and the Northern Territory. The bottom line is that I simply do not accept the legitimacy of the assertion by the commonwealth of sole authority over this bill.

Mr Stefaniak: Everyone else does though. Everybody else respects it Jon.

MR STANHOPE: Everybody else might; I do not. I simply do not accept—in relation to a piece of legislation that requires my authority for it to be made—that I cannot treat it in any way I deem fit. That is precisely what I have done. I have sought advice from my officials; I have sought advice from external experts; and I have invited the entire ACT community to respond to me if they so wish.

I have shown the people of Canberra the respect due to them. They are worthy of this respect. They have a right to know what legislation the government of the ACT is agreeing to on their behalf. This is a remarkable proposition: that a government can be excluded by another government from consulting with its own people in relation to law for which we, this government, are personally responsible.

Mr Stefaniak, you and your colleagues are shouting for this community to hear, “We do not think you should know what law we are entering into on your behalf.” What a remarkable thing to scream from the housetops: “People of Canberra, the Liberal Party of Canberra does not think you deserve to know. We would have preferred to have kept this law secret from you. We do not want you to know or understand what provisions we are entering into on your behalf. We, the Liberal Party of Canberra, do not want you to think about the extent to which this dramatic law impacts on your civil liberties, your human rights and on the rule of law in your community, Canberra, and in the whole of Australia. We, the Liberal Party, don’t want you to know we put our trust exclusively in the Prime Minister of Australia and, of course, into his backbench colleagues such as Senator Humphries.”


MR PRATT: My question is to the minister for emergency services. Minister, in 2002 the Emergency Services Authority was anticipating that the 2002-03 fire season posed a grave risk to the ACT. As a result, they applied for funding for two extra officers for planning and community education and to increase aerial firefighting capacity. This application was rejected and, indeed, your government cut its budget by two per cent. Why did your cabinet reject this bid then for additional funding, given the warnings from experts that the ACT faced a grave threat from bushfires at that time? Why did your government cut the ESB budget by two per cent, limiting its ability to respond to this grave threat?

MR HARGREAVES: I was not there at the time, but the Treasurer was there. I would ask the Treasurer to give the financial details in his answer.

MR QUINLAN: To some extent, I will take this on notice to get the exact detail. When I pick up the Canberra Times and read a headline like the one this morning, my immediate reflex is to read the story and find out the real story. Of course, way down below, there was a story about spot fires, not firestorms. In relation to the funding, alarm bells rang immediately, as they do quite often these days, so I wonder how accurate that

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