Page 4580 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 November 2005

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MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I absolutely deny the allegation that I have attacked the Doogan inquiry. I have attacked the Chief Minister’s predilection to impede the Doogan inquiry.

MR SPEAKER: I will have a look at Hansard.

MR PRATT: I shall continue. While finding that the COAG report, like the McLeod inquiry, fell far short of getting to the bottom of the events again, disappointingly, the recovery conference has not acknowledged those important failures.

While I acknowledge that the Stanhope government did take up many of McLeod’s recommendations and has made a genuine effort to implement many of its recommendations, it is not true, as the Chief Minister has claimed, that all of those recommendations have been implemented. I sincerely hope that the Stanhope government now acts on those areas well covered in the sustainability and bushfire recovery conference and that the report does not become another dust-collecting and expensive exercise.

Of greater concern to the opposition and the community is that the Stanhope government, un-prodded by a bush fire recovery conference that failed to discuss the most yawning gaps in the research and analysis aspects of recovery—namely, failed preventative strategies, on the back of stark lessons arising from the December 2001 bushfires and the government’s failure to warn the ACT community prior to 18 January 2003—will not take note of nor put into action any lessons arising from that conference either.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (11.15): I wish to address the issue very briefly. I find quite remarkable the lack of respect for the sub judice rule, the Coroners Court and the coronial process that has been expressed particularly by Mr Pratt in the comments he has made—in fact, a lack of respect for anybody associated with any response to the bushfire and the outcomes of that.

We see the attack from Mr Pratt on the McLeod report. Mr Pratt, of all people, with the level of understanding or intelligence that he brings to most subjects, is attacking Ron McLeod, the ex-Commonwealth Ombudsman, who provided an initial, short, sharp inquiry, with 60 recommendations—all learned, all made on the basis of submissions from across the ACT, from all relevant authorities and from individuals—a workable report, exactly the sort of report that we needed at the time, a report which the ACT government implemented and implemented effectively. Yet it is not good enough for Mr Pratt.

In railing against the government in order to achieve this cheap political point, Mr Pratt and the Liberal Party, the opposition, seek to continue to generate from the fire this attempt to fan the flames of community dissention and aggravation. As Mr Quinlan has said time and time again, they are feeding off the grief and the loss of people who are still grieving and still feeling so hard the loss that they suffered in the fire. It is now three years since the fire.

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