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When is a summit not a summit?



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Gavan O'Connor MP MEMBER FOR CORIO

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING, REGIONAL SERVICES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

6 November 2003

WHEN IS A SUMMIT NOT A SUMMIT?

Did a bushfire summit take place last year on 7 March or not? According to new Regional Services Minister Senator Ian Campbell, a summit was held last year on 7 March. (Press release 4 November 2003)

Why then did Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson make no mention of it when directly asked by Labor in Question Time on 21 and 22 October 2002?

After the disastrous 2001/2002 Sydney bushfires the Howard Government made three clear commitments. 1. To develop a national bushfire strategy, 2. To develop a national aerial firefighting strategy, and

3. To hold a national summit.

The National Bushfire Strategy seems to have disappeared off the agenda. In fact Senator Campbell seemed to walk right away from the concept during this week’s Senate Estimates hearings.

There is a National Aerial Firefighting Centre, largely thanks to the efforts of State and Territory Governments, but with relatively minor input from the Commonwealth. The States kick in most of the money and the Commonwealth still refuses to commit to the strategy beyond this financial year.

But what about the Summit? In responding to Labor questions last year the Deputy Prime Minister ducked and weaved and even denied ever committing to a summit in the first place, but made no mention at all of a summit held on 7 March.

If Senator Campbell is trying to badge a meeting of officials, not involving any state or federal minister, as a summit he is drawing a long bow indeed.

Just when we thought that the bumbling and bungling over a national bushfire strategy might have ended with the departure of Wilson Tuckey from the Regional Services Portfolio, along comes Senator Ian Campbell who seems to have picked up some of his predecessor’s same bad habits.

Contact Gavan O’Connor on 0418 518 528 Bernie Eades on 0419 664 016