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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 3 Hansard (15 March) . . Page.. 630..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

the difference. The opposition will put forward a model which would result in more money being spent in back offices, rather than on the front line. Our model is about reducing the levels of senior management and spending more money on the front line—more money on training, more money on risk management, risk assessment and preparation for keeping our community safe.

Emergency Services Agency—consultation

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services. Minister, on 6 March 2007 the new Commissioner for Emergency Services and you announced a new management structure for the Emergency Services Agency. In the business plan for the agency for the period to 2009-10 it says that the agency will "engage and value our people through careful and considered consultation ... and acting in an ethical way to all". The Volunteer Brigades Association today issued a media release stating that the restructure was "made without any meaningful discussion"with them. Minister, why did you and your commissioner fail to implement the requirement to engage in effective consultations before the new management structure was finalised?

MR CORBELL: We did not. What occurred in relation to the restructure is that a briefing on the restructure and the new business plan was provided to representatives of the volunteer brigades, to brigade captains and to SES commanders the day before the announcement, and the invitation was made for further discussion on the details of that in the coming weeks. The response, regrettably, of the volunteers in this regard was not to come back with further comments, not to seek further meetings, but to hold the rally they did today.

That is their decision. They are entitled to approach it in that manner. But the offer was made at the time for further discussion. That offer remains and that will be reiterated by the commissioner in the coming day or so, when he will reiterate his offer to sit down and discuss these issues in more detail. I think the issue that we need to address in particular is that, if the volunteers have concerns about how the management structure will impact on their operational affairs, we need to have that discussion. We stand ready to have that discussion and the invitation will be made again to the volunteer groups to invite them to engage in that discussion.

MR MULCAHY: I ask the Minister a supplementary question. Minister, why have you not provided sufficient time to the four services to consider and comment on the changes to the structure of the ESA?

MR CORBELL: I think I have just answered that question.

Emergency services—volunteers

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, in a letter to the editor in the Canberra Times of 10 March 2007 a letter writer dealt with, amongst other things, respect for volunteers and he said in part:

What Corbell and the bureaucrats overlook is that volunteer organisations such as the SES and Rural Fire Service stand or fall on the goodwill of the volunteers. Lose the goodwill and you lose the organisation.

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