Page 2729 - Week 09 - Thursday, 8 August 2013
release”. Minister, in maintaining this position, what advice did you take so as to satisfy yourself that you were complying with the Emergencies Act 2004 with regard to the strategic bushfire management plan?
MR CORBELL: I take advice from my officials on all of these matters.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.
MR SMYTH: Minister, in light of the Auditor-General’s findings, will you now be releasing the relevant requirement and capability information? If yes, when? If no, why not, and what is the government hiding?
MR CORBELL: The government has made public all the relevant documentation on these matters. The government will not be releasing these other papers that Mr Smyth refers to, for the reasons that I previously stated in an answer to a question on notice to Mr Smyth.
MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Wall.
MR WALL: Minister, what similarities have you observed between the Auditor-General’s findings and recommendations and those of Commissioner McLeod, Coroner Doogan and the Victorian royal commission in relation to previous bushfire events?
MR CORBELL: I think there is a marked difference because what we have from the Auditor-General is a conclusion that the government has a robust bushfire management framework in place to protect our community. The Auditor-General has concluded that we have a robust arrangement for the management of bushfires in the ACT. The Auditor-General has gone on to say that there have been significant improvements in the arrangements for bushfire management in the ACT compared to the circumstances we faced just over a decade ago.
I take that as a very strong endorsement from the Auditor-General of the very significant work that has been done. If you go through and read in detail the Auditor-General’s report you will see that time and again she concludes that we have a robust framework that meets the requirements of the Emergencies Act and that is a well-advanced and well-developed framework for managing the risk of bushfire in our community.
Does the Auditor-General conclude that there are a number of areas where there is a need for further improvements, often in terms of documentation? The answer to that is yes, and we welcome those audit findings. That is a normal part of the audit process, to identify areas where documentation and evidence can be improved and record keeping can be improved to demonstrate that performance has occurred.
But I would say that in relation to a number of those recommendations, the conclusions drawn because of a lack of documentation do not mean that the activity has not actually been done. In fact, quite the contrary; the activity has been done but the Auditor-General felt that the record keeping in relation to a number of those activities was inadequate.