Page 3748 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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report was. I do not know, Mr Pratt, whether you bothered to do any verification yourself; or do you take literally what you read in the paper and say, “I will now build a proposition on that basis”?

As far as I have been advised so far—and we will make sure that we review the paperwork—there was not a request for two extra staff for education and whatever the claim was in the paper. That is not a matter of record. It may have been in preliminary papers. We will have a dig around and see if we can find it, but we have not seen that proposal. One of the other things you must remember is that the justification—every department writes, quite often, a fairly flowery justification—for additional funds referred to relates to the budget that was being put together for 2002-03, or 2003-04.

Mr Pratt: Shall we take 2002-03?

MR QUINLAN: It was 2002-03—the back half. I think the Canberra Times is referring to requests for additional resources to be considered in a budget that would come down some four months after the fire we are talking about.

Mr Pratt: Are you saying it is 2003-04?

MR QUINLAN: I will check all this, but I think the requests put forward related to and emerged at the end of 2002. They were amongst all the paperwork—I do not know if you have ever seen it but it is quite horrendous—that comes through with various propositions put forward for budget. In a stack of initiatives this high to be considered for the budget to be brought down in May 2003, there were a couple of requests for additional funding, as far as I know. One request was for fire brigade logistic support capability—additional funding for a specialised logistic support capability to deal with chemical, biological and radioactivity. The other request was for an upgrade of the communications systems.

Those are the ones I have on record. As fate would have it, the one for communications was approved and, as you are probably aware, there has been an ongoing investment in communications within the Emergency Services Authority for some time. Communication capability fell away in previous years. At this stage I do not have a record of a claim for additional people for fighting spot fires or whatever. It is a bit of a pity that the way a story can be interpreted, obviously by people like yourself, and conclusions drawn do not really give the true picture of what happened. There may have been, within the communications, some discussion about spot fires or where it was considered that additional funding was needed but it was not, I do not think, expressed with the urgency of, “You must do this now.” It was about the budget process that, of course, starts about November and rolls through to May of the following year.

Anti-terrorism legislation

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Attorney-General. By putting on your web site the commonwealth’s in-confidence, work-in-progress draft anti-terrorism legislation that is already superseded, have you not caused unnecessary alarm in the community? Will your own proposed anti-terrorism legislation not have the effect of watering down the government’s ability to prevent terrorism?

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