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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1731..


Gungahlin fire station

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is also to the Urban Services Minister, who is responsible for police and emergency services. Minister, recently I wrote to you about continual closures of the Gungahlin fire station, which I am aware was closed for at least eight days in May and for two days again last week. The explanations attributed to government since have tried to create the impression that the fire crews are out and about on other duties, but it is my understanding that it was closed and that there were no officers on duty at the station on those days. In fact, I received information in advance of the station being closed for the last four closures and took the time to investigate the situation for myself. On one of the days I rang the bell and was put through to the communications centre at Curtin. I learnt that there was a grass fire in Nicholls on that day, but the crew attending was from Belconnen, not from Gungahlin. Could the minister inform the Assembly how many days this month the Gungahlin fire station will be closed, and can he confirm that the reason is due to a shortage of fire brigade officers?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, the advice I have is that ACT fire stations do not close. However, the units may not always be in attendance. The units are used for other purposes than simply responding to fires. We have a system whereby we move units around as is required. The brigade is always conscious of its response time standards. These are that the first firefighting appliance will arrive at a fire scene within eight minutes of being called on 50 per cent of occasions, and within 10 minutes on 90 per cent of occasions. That is the standard that we do work to. I do not think it is fair to say that a station is closed because the appliances are not there. They are moved around regularly.

Mr Hargreaves asked a question earlier this year about the ambulance station. The same story; you do not leave units where you do not need them. You move them so that you have maximum effect for the maximum amount of time. That is what we do.

Disability services inquiry

MR WOOD: My question is to the Chief Minister. Mr Gallop has provided you with an interim report on his inquiry into disability services. Do you intend to lock this away in a most secure place in an effort to avoid any discussion of the findings that would impact negatively on the government ahead of the election, or do you propose to demonstrate an openness in government and release the report and allow debate and urgently needed remedial measures to take place?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I have made it quite clear that I have no intention of leaving any matter which this inquiry brings to light out of the public gaze unless there is a very sound reason, for example a legal reason, why that ought to be the case.

Members will be aware that recently I was provided with a copy of an interim report by Mr Gallop. The interim report deals almost exclusively with the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three people who were in the care of ACT disability programs. The matters covered in the interim report are similar in nature to the sorts of matters that would be covered, one would assume, by the coroner in his inquiry into those same three


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