Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 22 September 2005) . . Page.. 3579 ..
Perhaps the funding has been diverted away from the Chief Minister’s expensive legacy, known as the $12 million arboretum, or by Mr Corbell’s $6.7 million real-time information system.
Mr Stanhope’s newly announced “see something, say something” campaign to report suspicious packages on buses is another example of this government’s implementing measures that, while they are welcome, address only part of the problem. It is one thing to put the onus on the community to do its bit, but this can only be effective if the government is doing its bit too by tightening up the laws, sufficiently resourcing police and having proper incident management plans in place.
Clearly, the Stanhope government has not come to grips with a wide range of essential community safety policy issues and simply does not possess the operational culture required to properly protect the community from substantial threats or lower level domestic threats. Simply said, the Stanhope government’s track record on the management of community safety issues in the ACT is abysmal. This, I fear, is not set to improve unless this Chief Minister and his government make community safety the number one priority over and above their non-essential ideological pet projects.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs, and Acting Minister for Education and Training) (4.11): The government, contrary to the diatribe we just heard from the anti-police minister, has put considerable effort into developing the Emergency Services Authority as a major force in the protection of community safety in the ACT. The McLeod report into the 2003 bushfires provided a way ahead and my government has acted, as members know, on all of its recommendations.
The Emergencies Act 2004 merged four separate pieces of legislation into one, and in plain English. It now clearly defines the responsibilities of all agencies as well as the ACT Bushfire Council and the emergency management committee. It required ESA to communicate with the community before, during and after emergencies, and it introduced a state of alert and state of emergency. For the first time, the ESA is required to audit bushfire season preparations, with this requirement to become mandatory in agency annual reports from next year. The legislation also required the production of the strategic bushfire management plan, a national first, and the subordinate bushfire operational plans. We have clearly placed responsibility for the ACT emergency management plan with the ESA and have removed previous confusion around the territory controller role in major emergencies.
Emergency services agencies not only protect life and property but also, of course, the environment. Responsibility and accountability for strategic direction of all elements of the ESA are now allocated to a single person, the ESA Commissioner. Very importantly, the legislation specifically highlights the value of volunteers to the ACT community and establishes the State Emergency Service in its own right within the authority.
The ACT has adopted an all-hazards approach to emergency management that addresses both natural and non-natural threats. The Emergencies Act 2004 provides for the declaration of a state of alert or a state of emergency by the ACT government. This enables a proactive approach to be taken for evacuation. The requirement for evacuation arrangements in the ACT was identified following the bushfires. A similar requirement