Page 1832 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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Royal Canberra Hospital—implosion
(Question No 2032)

Dr Foskey asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 8 April 2008:

(1) Is the Attorney aware of the claims that the Royal Canberra Hospital was designed to withstand nuclear attack, and that its surprisingly heavy construction was a consequence of that design;

(2) Are those claims outlined in part (1) correct;

(3) Can the Attorney-General confirm that the issue of the Royal Canberra Hospital’s design was raised by a constituent through letters to MLAs and through personal representation outside the Assembly in the week preceding the hospital implosion;

(4) Is the Attorney-General aware if those concerns regarding the construction of the Royal Canberra Hospital, and the difficulty in locating detailed plans of the hospital, were raised through the coroner’s inquiry into the death of a young girl at the implosion;

(5) Is the Attorney aware that the same constituent alleged that the Assembly is in breach of Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) by failing to deal adequately with the hospital implosion, and in failing to heed the warnings raised in the week prior to its occurrence;

(6) Has that allegation been referred to the ACT Government Solicitor.

Mr Corbell: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) I am aware of those claims through correspondence from a particular constituent.

(2) I am not able to confirm that the claims outlined in part 1 are correct, the design was however looked into in detail during the implosion inquest in 1997-98.

(3) No.

(4) The inquest into the tragic death of Katie Bender ran for 118 hearing days during 1997-1998 and Coroner Madden handed down his decision in November 1999. The inquest was open to the public and extensively reported on; the comprehensive report and findings of the Coroner are available on the website of the ACT Magistrates Court.

The issue of the structure of Royal Canberra Hospital was considered in some detail in the inquest. For example, the methodology used including the physical characteristics of the building, the role of structural engineers and the views of an internationally renowned implosion expert were all the subject of extensive evidence. I understand the specific issue of whether the Hospital was designed to withstand nuclear attack was not considered by the inquest: it was not raised and, in any event, was not relevant to the matters that concerned the Coroner.

(5) Yes

(6) Yes. The ACT Government Solicitor is of the opinion that the allegations are completely without legal foundation and suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of

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