Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (28 October) . .
I remind the Assembly that the Victorian royal commission report highlighted the confusion that arose when fire agency personnel in Victoria distorted the concept of coordination. These amendments ensure that any distortion of the concepts of command, which remains the responsibility of chief officers, control, which remains the responsibility of the incident controller, and coordination, which is already a statutory responsibility of the ESA commissioner, are clearly set out in our law. They are to the benefit of the management of our emergencies. These amendments are critical in that context.
I would like particularly to thank the UFU, the United Firefighters Union, for the opportunity to speak with them and talk through these issues. I acknowledge their recognition that there is a need to address the scenario I outlined earlier, and also their willingness to consider and be supportive of a further explanation of what coordination means, so as to remove ambiguity and confusion, so that coordination means what it means in the AIIMS system, and that command and control mean what they mean in the AIIMS system, and clearly continue to rest with the chief officers of the relevant services and the incident controllers appointed by those chief officers. This is an important amendment, and I commend it to the Assembly.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.48): Mr Corbell has just confirmed that I am 100 per cent correct in my stance in opposing the amendment. What Mr Corbell has just done is conflate all emergencies in the ACT into the sort of emergency that occurred in Victoria through the royal commission document that he speaks of. The minister knows, or the minister should know, that the scale of the fire in Victoria, were it to occur in the ACT, would mean different sections of the Emergencies Act would be used because an emergency controller would be appointed, and it is entirely appropriate then for the coordination to take effect.
But you cannot conflate coordination in a massive emergency—a level 2 or level 3 emergency—with command and control in a level 1 emergency, as the minister has just done. He has shown his ignorance of the act—a startling ignorance, and he should be across it better.
To claim that the circumstances of the Victorian 2009 fire would apply here in the ACT and, therefore, to remove section 8A(3), is just comparing apples and oranges. They are different sorts of events. Such a massive event here would immediately launch the emergency control arrangements, and that overrides section 8A. The minister should know that. If he does not, it is a serious concern. The Chief Minister should assure herself that he is in control of his portfolio.
What he has done is to cover his lack of knowledge. I note that throughout almost 40 minutes of speaking the minister has not mentioned the Sydney fire and the circumstances of the Sydney fire. He has not clarified anything there—and he should have, and he needs to.
Yes, as Mr Rattenbury said, the definition is acceptable. Yes, the definition—through you, Madam Assistant Speaker—is acceptable as it applies to coordination, not to command and control on the fire ground itself. They are different issues, and you
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