Page 1822 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022

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will benefit all workers, including Canberrans, is childcare policy. This will make it easier for families to be present in the workforce and deal with the structural inequalities that still exist within our workplaces. The former government wanted to put kids on forklifts! This new government would rather see these kids in good child care so that their parents can choose to contribute to the economy and the workforce.

Our workplace safety laws in the ACT are based on model laws at the federal level. An agreement exists between the government about negotiation and policymaking around these laws. I look forward to the return of genuine consultation and cooperation with the new government on our workplace safety laws. The stronger and more relevant laws and regulations that will come from this process will benefit employers and workers in the ACT.

MR HANSON: Minister, in what way will the new government help teachers across the ACT who have been threatened and have faced assaults on a regular basis in our schools?

MR GENTLEMAN: I refer to what I have just said about better work health and safety laws across the nation—not just here in the ACT, and not simply in regard to teachers. All of the workforce should be able to come home safely at the end of the day, and that is what I think the federal government will lean to, and we will be supporting them during that process.

Emergency services—staffing

MR MILLIGAN: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, recently we heard that firefighters, instead of an ambulance crew, were sent out to respond to a priority 1 call, due to shortages. The firefighters’ union called it unprecedented, while the ambulance union states that the service is on a knife’s edge. Minister, two years ago you promised additional staff so that minimum staffing levels as determined by the ACT Emergency Services Agency could be met. Minister, why weren’t there enough ambulance staff available?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Milligan for the question; it is important. Of course, each year we have invested more in our emergency services in each of the first responder portfolios. I refer the member to the excellent interview of the commissioner just the other day on the radio. She said that the ACT Ambulance Service has an established reputation as a high-performing community-based service but, like many industries, is currently suffering from ongoing impacts associated with COVID-19. The ACT Emergency Services Agency recognises that there has been pressure on ambulance services nationally. The ACT is not exempt from this, and ACTAS is facing ongoing pressures and strain from the service.

With respect to this particular incident that occurred on Saturday 4 June there were some crewing issues, and, as a result of staff shortages, increasing workforce demands, fatigue and illness, it was decided to support our ambulance paramedics. The support provided by ACT Fire and Rescue was not an alternative to an ambulance; it was in conjunction, to ensure that care arrived as quickly as possible and to assist with frontline prioritising.

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