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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (15 March) . . Page.. 591..

MR PRATT (continuing):

The paramount recommendation made in the McLeod inquiry was for an independent authority and for the services to be independently responsive. That is the benchmark—and you have failed that. The services have voted that that is not going to work. What they have made very clear is that the independence of the services is paramount. The rural fire service and the fire brigade are distinctly different organisations, with distinctly different cultures, with distinctly different tasks to carry out, and they must be allowed to carry those tasks out unencumbered by bureaucracy.

You have failed the organisation. You have failed the men and women of the services, and by doing that you have failed the ACT community to deliver emergency management and therefore you are doomed as a minister. You deserve not to be there. No confidence is voted in you.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (10.47): Mr Speaker, the government will obviously not be supporting this motion today and I reject absolutely the claims made by those opposite about the management of the Emergency Services Agency.

Mr Speaker, the opposition cannot have it both ways. They say: "We demand that the Emergency Services Agency become a statutory authority to prevent bureaucratic interference. We demand that it be independent. We demand that the commissioner make decisions about how the organisation is run, without interference."But then the one time that the commissioner says, "This is how I want to structure the organisation,"they say: "Minister, you must step in and intervene. You must interfere with the management of the ESA. You must tell the commissioner what to do."They cannot have it both ways. They cannot say, "Make the ESA independent; guarantee its capacity to operate independently,"and then when they are unhappy with a decision say, "Minister, interfere."

The commissioner, in putting together the restructure of the ESA, did consult with me. He did say to me, "This is what I am proposing,"and I said to him, "I support your approach and I will support your implementation."And do you know why I did that, Mr Speaker? Because the territory employs the commissioner to do a job. We employ the commissioner to run the emergency services. That is his job. That is what he is paid for and that is the experience that he has.

I am not an expert in the organisation of emergency services. I am not an expert in how the administration of these organisations should work. I am responsible to the taxpayer for ensuring that the organisation is run appropriately, efficiently, within its budget and in a way, most importantly, that meets the needs of the community, to protect it in times of emergency. That is my job.

I have no reason to doubt the capacity of Commissioner Manson. He comes with extensive experience in the management of emergency services, including extensive fire management experience. Commissioner Manson has been responsible for the response to large-scale fires in the Blue Mountains and large-scale fires in Kosciusko National Park, working with land managers, rural fire services and urban fire services. He has extensive experience in the management of other emergency situations, particularly his most recent experience in a maritime environment. He has the

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