Page 4587 - Week 14 - Thursday, 24 November 2005

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MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (11.35), in reply: It has been interesting to hear the comments of Mr Pratt and Mrs Burke this morning. The question arises of course that, if Mr Pratt was so concerned about the ACT strategies on the bushfire response and recovery, why did he not attend the conference? That is right; he was not there.

Mr Stanhope: He was trying to get into the mosque. They have banned him from it!

MR GENTLEMAN: And why did Mrs Burke not attend the conference? She was not there either.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Gentleman has the floor.

MR GENTLEMAN: I think that, if they had attended, they would have learnt quite a lot. I am pleased that Mr Pratt has finally decided to take an interest in the matter but I suggest that he take up the invitation next time he is invited. He has come here today with a spray on a four-day conference that he did not attend.

Mr Stanhope: Good point.

MR GENTLEMAN: I would like to start by saying there are some tragic facts that come with any discussion on the 2003 bushfires.

Mrs Burke: You attend everything, do you, Jon?

Mr Stanhope: Four days, and he couldn’t be bothered to go. That is really interesting.

Mrs Burke interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! The conversations across the floor are not helping Mr Gentleman to give his presentation.

Mr Quinlan: He doesn’t mind.

MR SPEAKER: Well, I do. Please desist, however tempting it might be.

MR GENTLEMAN: Any life lost is a tragedy. Not only is such discussion unavoidable, it is also necessary. We did that. Mr Pratt has raised concerns over the validity of the conference. He believes there should have been more attention paid to the research and analysis of bushfires so this does not happen again. One of the lessons we learnt at the conference, Mr Pratt, is that bushfires will happen again because they are part of the Australian environment. I would like to pose a question, through you, Mr Speaker, to Mr Pratt. How does Mr Pratt know that the conference was a waste of time if, given the opportunity to attend, he did not do so?

MR SPEAKER: You cannot pose questions at this point. Do not be tempted to answer that, Mr Pratt.

MR GENTLEMAN: I will try to enlighten Mr Pratt as to the presentations that occurred at the conference, to provide him with some of the information on our bushfire

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