Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 4242 ..
Title read by Clerk.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Minister for Planning and Land Management, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Advanced Technology and Space Industries) (11.00): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
I present the Emergencies Amendment Bill 2018 to the Assembly. The safety, security and wellbeing of territorians is a fundamental responsibility of this government. The outlook for the 2018-19 bushfire season is especially unfavourable. Like most of south-eastern Australia, the territory is facing significant dry conditions as a result of the drought and the increased likelihood of bushfires. I have already provided a statement to the Assembly about the early start to the 2018-19 bushfire season and the work that is underway to prevent, prepare, respond to and recover from an emergency, should one occur.
In addition, Australia, like most of the world, is facing a heightened security threat environment. Acts of terrorism or cyber-attacks against our critical infrastructure are just some of the security threats that all governments must continue to work together to mitigate.
Madam Speaker, preparedness for emergencies will continue to be a key priority for this government. The ACT's emergency management procedures are governed by the Emergencies Act 2004, which has provided a sound framework for managing emergencies in the ACT since 2004. The existing act is crucial and critical for the ACT at this time, the start of the bushfire season, as it provides the governance mechanisms for managing all emergencies. Furthermore, the role of the act in supporting a response to a potential terrorist attack in the ACT cannot be understated.
The current act was enacted to revise the previous emergency management legislation following the catastrophic 2003 Canberra fires. The act consolidated the territory legislation governing the four emergency services: the fire brigade, the Ambulance Service, the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service. The previous broad structure was replaced with a more cohesive and strategically focused management structure under the Emergency Services Agency Commissioner, who is responsible for the operation of the ACT Emergency Services Agency, ESA.
ESA is responsible for the overall strategic direction and management of the four individual emergency services, while the day-to-day functions are directly managed by the chief officers, who are ultimately responsible to the commissioner. The benefits of this consolidation have included the integration of the emergency services, removing the duplication of services, improving operational responses and simplifying the legislation.
Recently the government identified the opportunity to strengthen several aspects of the act to better support the governance of security and emergency management in the