[First filed: December 19, 2006 @ 08:20
Again filed: December 19, 2006 @ 11:15
And: December 20, 2006 @ 10:05]
At 10 this morning Coroner Maria Doogan is expected to publish the findings of her inquest into the 2003 fires.
Here comes the circus kiddies!
UPDATED: And it’s out! There’s a page full of links.
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From the prelims:
I conclude that the failure to aggressively attack the fires in the first few days after they ignited on 8 January 2003 was one factor that led to the firestorm on 18 January 2003…
… I conclude that the failure to warn the community – despite senior personnel of the Emergency Services Bureau having knowledge that the fires would burn into the suburbs – was a factor that exacerbated the property losses and resulted in panic and confusion…
… I note too that, in accordance with the long established Westminster convention of responsible government, the responsible Minister at the time of the firestorm was Mr. Jon Stanhope
Well he did tell us he was to blame.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The ABC has a mostly colour piece on the mood in the courtroom and some of the findings related to the Emergency Services Bureau.
FURTHER UPDATE: The ABC has another story in which Our Brave Leader comes out swinging and saying the coroner has it all wrong.
Reaction: Bill Stefaniak has stepped up his rhetoric and is now impotently demanding that the Chief Minister resign. Simon Corbell is promising to respond to the recommendations in 2007. Deb Foskey is concerned but not enough to do anything, not that she could if she would. Deb’s also worried that “the bush” has been “proven guilty before itâ€™s even tried” and is upset it might be returned to its natural state of continual low scale burnoffs.
Best of all is Canberra’s biggest ever dummy spit by the Chief Minister who informs us the coroner is wrong wrong wrong and we should trust him over her. That argument might work on Bill Stefaniak but seems a little strained when applied against a respected jurist.
The ABC also has Prime Minister Howard opportunistically putting the boot in. They also report that the Liberals are warming up to the independence of the ESA. The reason this is a big deal is that to say the ESA needs to be independent is to concede that political interference was detrimental in 2003. The Stanhope Government is not at all keen to concede that point.
Chris Uhlman’s 2c: On Newsradio they had Chris Uhlman put together a masterful summation [MP3] of the tragic dishonesty and neglect which the Chief Minister is willing to take only notional responsibility for. (including a shout-out to the “tiny group” of people who pay attention to ACT politics)
One more update for the road: The Chief Minister has pushed out a media release linking to statutory declarations from Bill Wood and Ted Quinlan stating that they, like the rest of the Stanhope Ministry, were too dopey to understand the gravity of the pre-fire cabinet briefing. Despite the Cabinet Secretary writing a note about the threat.
Also Al-Jazeera are on the story and Mr. Stanhope will be relieved to see they’ve gone easy on him personally.