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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 8 Hansard (10 August) . .

Page.. 2636..


This seems like a sensible approach. I do not think this is a case of simply slotting any old person into the comm cen. Clearly, it is people with considerable training. I think that if somebody has the skills to work on the ground, that is the best place for them, but there are subtleties with these processes so I think that these are issues the government needs to keep working through. Consultation needs to continue, but we need to move through these issues at some point.

I will continue to watch how these reforms progress. I am sure we will be back again in this place at a future time. I simply observe that I thank those who work in our emergency services and wish them all the best out there. It is not an easy job, and they should rest assured that they have the support of all members in this place even if there are disagreements on exactly what that looks like.

MRS JONES (Molonglo) (3.26): I will speak to the amendment and close. We will not support the amendment. As Mr Rattenbury pointed out, it does go in some ways to a slight difference in semantics but such a slight difference makes all the difference to my motion. The very purpose of the motion is to highlight that there is a difference of opinion on this side of the chamber compared to the government's side of the chamber about how the services in the ESA, and in particular in Fire & Rescue, feel or have experienced the minister's actions in the reform process and how there is a deep difference of opinion about the best way not just to run the comm cen but to support our troops, our men and women in uniform, on the ground.

I do not support the amendment because the amendment stipulates that the government has, in fact, been creating a culture of confidence within the Emergency Services Agency. The amendment asserts that action has been taken to ensure that ESA employees know that they are equipped to undertake their role and to feel that government will always do that. And it asserts that the ESA employees feel fully supported by the government. That is the very point to which my motion goes. I believe that, in particular in Fire & Rescue, that is not the case, and that has been the consistent feedback that I have had on the ground from the firies as well as through organisations representing them. So we will not be supporting the amendment.

In conclusion, I want to reflect a little on the debate from before we went to lunch. The minister claimed that changes to the comm cen mean that there can be better media and so on. I think that these are all great outcomes but, at the end of the day, the opinion of those who respond to emergencies and fight fires in the ACT is that we will actually be losing something if we lose uniformed, practised firefighting-capable people from the comm cen. They truly understand with deep experience what the different appliances are capable of, which appliances are where and how they can best be deployed. There is an element of professionalism and judgement in how those appliances are deployed.

I accept that, yes, comm cen operators currently understand part of the comm cen and are an important part of what we do, and I am sure that they are very highly trained. But it does not replace experience on the ground. I know that in other parts of our uniformed services in the national sphere, in our federal military and so on, the complementarity of having people with experience of the operational side of an


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