ACT Bushfire Coronial 2006 


This website aims to inform people of some additional information about the January 2003 fires which severely affected Canberra, Australia’s capital city. The website was created in the week following the release of The Canberra Firestorm. Inquests and Inquiry into Four Deaths and Four Fires between 8 and 18 January 2003 by ACT Coroner Maria Doogan, on Tuesday 19 December 2006.

Most people will not have time to read the entire report of approximately 800 pages.

The media have selectively reported from the Coroner's report. The focus of this website is to provide information directly from witnesses to the public.

Section 55 Notices

Five persons were issued with Section 55 notices of possible adverse comments by the Coroner. Through this website you can easily access the statements in response to these Section 55 notices by Jon Stanhope MLA, Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Mike Castle, former Executive Director of the ACT Emergency Services Bureau (ESB), Peter Lucas-Smith, former Chief Fire Control Officer in the ACT, Tony Graham, then Operations Manager of the ACT Bushfire and Emergency Services of ESB and Rick Mc Rae, then Acting Manager of the Risk Management Unit of the ESB.

The final responses to the coroner's section 55 notice comments from Jon Stanhope, Mike Castle, Peter Lucas-Smith, Tony Graham and Rick McRae are available from the ACT courts website (Volume II Appendix A of the Coroner's Report, 8.7 MB). As this file is quite large, the following Section 55 responses are available separately:

Media Releases

The Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) have issued a media statement expressing concerns about “the impact the findings may have on fighting the current and future bushfires in Australia in terms of individuals being named for decisions taken – often under immense pressure - during the 2003 Canberra fires.” A copy is available here, or from their website.

Press Coverage

A search on google news for "act bushfire coronial" will produce a wealth of media speculation and regurgitation of the report. The links below will be updated with the most important media articles:

  • Jack Waterford, editor-at-large of The Canberra Times has a large opinion piece on the outcomes of the coronial inquiry. He states: 'her [ACT Coroner Maria Doogan] argument that relevant people "knew" and failed to warn, or that they warned, but only a limited few, is still thin.'