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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 377..

MR CORBELL: I find it distasteful in the extreme that Mr Pratt and other members of the opposition will seek to drag a fine and outstanding leader like David Prince into the political agenda just to suit their political critique of the government when it comes to the Emergency Services Agency. They are entitled to critique this government as much as they like but they are not entitled to make assumptions about decisions made by senior officers within our emergency services agency without evidence, without a scrap of evidence, and to drag that person into this debate.

Mr Prince is a fine and outstanding man. I have enormous respect for him. I have very little respect for those opposite who seek to drag into the political debate the reputation, the standing and the motivations of people like David Prince simply to suit their own political agenda. They should be ashamed of their behaviour. They should apologise to Mr Prince for dragging him into the political arena in this way. The only person who can speak about what Mr Prince's motives are is Mr Prince. They should refrain from drawing conclusions they have no basis for.

MR PRATT: I ask a supplementary question. Of course, minister, you know that he will not go public.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Come to the subject of the question.

MR PRATT: Minister, while losing one senior executive may be regarded as a misfortune, losing five surely looks like carelessness.

MR CORBELL: It is not a question.

Emergency services—restructure

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the minister for emergency services. The restructure of emergency services announced on Tuesday has effectively reduced the ESA to the same unworkable and unreliable position that the failed ESB was pre-2003. This is clearly why fire brigade chief officer, David Prince, resigned, the fifth senior officer to do so since you took over the portfolio. Minister, did you take into account the detrimental effect on professional officers and volunteers of another damaging restructure?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Mulcahy for the question. All of the assumptions in Mr Mulcahy's question are not based on any sense of reality. We have a series of artificial constructs designed to justify the Liberal Party's position on this matter.

A lot has changed since 2003, and I am very happy to put these things on the record. We now have an arrangement where the operational independence of our chief officers and our operational staff is guaranteed in legislation. Those opposite know this and seek to avoid and ignore it because they know it does not suit their argument.

Yesterday, I was able to demonstrate to those opposite that, despite claims to the contrary, the commissioner of the ESA and the chief officers of the ESA have very good access to the minister. I was able to demonstrate yesterday that, in the last six

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