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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 1818..

MR WOOD (12.12): Mr Speaker, we all acknowledge that the ACT Emergency Service organisation and its volunteers are very important for Canberra. We hope not to need them very often; but, of course, from time to time we meet circumstances where they are invaluable in their support to the community. The personnel in those services are skilled and dedicated and, most significantly, they are volunteers. At the same time, it was clear to me that we needed a stronger and, in some measure, centralised administrative structure. We needed to be sure that when an emergency arose, whether it was of a relatively minor nature or a very serious wide-ranging one, we had responses that were centrally controlled so that it was known exactly who was going to a place, what was happening, and that the people who were responding were the ones skilled and knowledgeable in those areas - that they were the appropriate ones to respond.

The report recommends that the changes undertaken proceed, and I strongly support that because I think the structures now in place are better than they have been before. It is also very important to note that most of the people who were involved in our discussions, most of the people who provide the troops for the Emergency Service, are volunteers. That means a different approach. They are not paid officers of the ACT Government, they are not subject to directions in that way, and I think the means of treating volunteers in this circumstance or in others are very different from the way of treating paid professionals. These are voluntary professionals. They are very good. I think in some instances they would acknowledge that they need a lot more training. One of the things I want to make a particular point about is that that training has to continue. I think there is much more yet to be done in the way of training these volunteers, and I hope that those programs grow, that they expand.

At the administrative level, in particular, I think recognition for volunteers has to take a different path from the way that the paid work force is treated. That perhaps highlights some of the difficulties that the volunteers believe they found themselves in because of the different circumstances that their sort of organisation presents. I think that is now recognised, and I believe that the role of the volunteers will be usefully incorporated into these new structures.

Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries) adjourned.

Report on Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 11 of 1996

MR WHITECROSS (12.15): Mr Speaker, I present Report No. 26 of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts entitled "Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 11, 1996 - Financial Audits with years ending to 30 June 1996", together with extracts of the minutes of proceedings, and I move:

That the report be noted.

Audit Report No. 11 of 1996 was presented to the Assembly on 12 December 1996. The audit covers the Auditor-General's examination of the financial arrangements of all ACT government agencies for the year 1995-96. In essence, the audit deals with matters of compliance and efficiency which have come to the notice of the Auditor-General

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