Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 3 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 883..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
I think the main review - if you have not been briefed on it and if you have not seen it, I am happy to arrange that - is the Commonwealth Bank review. I thought you probably would have been briefed on that. That is a detailed review that ties up all these other matters, including the one you are referring to, which has not been completed. If you have not had a briefing on that or seen that particular report, I would be happy to make that available and make officers of my department available to go through it with you in some detail. Obviously, you can ask questions in relation to any other peripheral matters that might be of concern to you.
MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Humphries. Minister, can you confirm that, since the issue of a fifth ambulance was raised in February this year, that fifth ambulance has been available on a 24-hour basis and that the provision of this ambulance has involved a minimum of overtime because of shift restructuring? How does this reconcile with your statement in February that you could not provide a full-time fifth ambulance because of staffing problems?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I cannot say exactly up to this moment, but my understanding is that we have been able to provide for the fifth ambulance on a full-time basis. Only a relatively slight improvement on the situation - - -
Mr Wood: You said you could not.
MR HUMPHRIES: I assume that the reason you have asked the question is that you want to know the answer. There was a difficulty owing to the staff losses we sustained in the period before the incident Mr Wood raised before occurred. The Ambulance Service, as at this time, currently has less staff than is required to implement the full 24-hour fifth ambulance crew and, therefore, is in the process of recruiting extra staff. So the problem has not been that we have simply had a small shift change to be able to effect this full-time fifth ambulance service.
In fact, the situation is that it has been necessary for a number of people to be used on overtime to be able to provide that fifth service. That comes at a cost, of course.
Mr Wood: Yes, but not greatly; very limited overtime.
MR HUMPHRIES: It is great enough, Mr Wood. I do not know about you, but I take seriously trying to keep within the budgets allocated, and money has been put aside for the provision of this service.
Mr Wood: A minimum of overtime has been used.
MR HUMPHRIES: That is your advice to the Assembly. I do not have advice to that effect here, and I would say that there has been some cost in being able to do this. That cost will be alleviated by having full-time officers on board to be able to provide their services to the service without being on overtime. That is obviously a greater cost