Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (15 March) . . Page.. 629..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
that, when they come to work in ACT Health or in the health system across the ACT wherever they choose, they will be looked after and respected, and that they will have access to the best facilities that we can provide.
MR SPEAKER: Before we go to the next question, I acknowledge the presence in the gallery of members of the University of the Third Age. Welcome.
Emergency Services Agency
MRS BURKE: My question is to the minister for emergency services. Minister, following the release of the details of the new structure of the Emergency Services Agency on 6 March 2007, you said that the adverse reaction to the changes was being made by "a few noisy people". How do you reconcile your statement that only a noisy few oppose your changes with the mass resignation this morning of all volunteer bushfire brigade captains?
MR CORBELL: At the time I made those comments, the only criticisms were coming from Mr Jeffery in Tharwa. In fact, I think that was the only cited source that was being referred to when those comments were being made. That is why I made that comment.
MRS BURKE: Minister, what action will you now take to restore the confidence of volunteers in the structure of the agency, in the Commissioner for Emergency Services, and in you as minister for emergency services?
MR CORBELL: The issues around change in an organisation are always difficult, particularly when you are challenging existing structures and saying that new structures need to replace them. I can understand the concerns of volunteers in that regard. As I said to volunteers this morning and as I will continue to say, the issue is to sit down and work through in detail the matters of concern to them and for the government, the commissioner and me to continue to explain the advantages of the new structure.
The advantages of the new structure are very clear. They are very clear in that it will mean less money being spent on senior management and it will mean more money being spent on the services that matter at the front end. I said in the debate this morning, I have said it in question time and I am happy to keep saying it for as long as it takes for it to sink in over there that the issue is that we need less money in our Emergency Services Agency being spent on back office functions and we need more being spent on those functions that directly support and assist the front line to do their job. That includes issues such as training, risk management and risk analysis, and all the others which I have emphasised on a number of occasions in answers to previous questions.
Those opposite would seek to establish a whole new bureaucracy. They would seek to re-establish the ESA as an authority, which would mean that it would have to have its own human resource management, its own IT management and its own ministerial support, all those things associated with running a separate department, because that is what it would be, in effect. It would be a separate department. It would not be able to call on the resources of other departments for a large range of those functions. That is