Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 63..
Mr Hargreaves: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I ask that you ask Mr Pratt to withdraw the word "hypocrisy". There is precedent in this place that the word is not parliamentary. I have been asked to withdraw it in times past.
MR PRATT: I would have thought that only applies to the individual, if the individual is called a hypocrite. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I ask you to rule on that. I will be happy to accede to your ruling.
MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Gentleman): Mr Pratt, it is a general convention of proceedings that that is inappropriate. I ask you to withdraw it.
MR PRATT: I withdraw that comment, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. In this MPI today Ms Porter wants to highlight the importance of the ACT's emergency service volunteers. I entirely agree with that sentiment, as I said before. Of course volunteers are important. They are upstanding members of our community who selflessly give their own time and even risk their lives to help their community. But what this government is failing to highlight here today is that, while it is bragging about the increase in volunteer numbers, this government is failing to properly support them. I will go into more detail about this shortly.
The Productivity Commission's figures show that ESA volunteer recruitment in the ACT has increased from 830 volunteers in 2002-03 to a total of 1,266 volunteers in 2004-05. While these figures are encouraging and show an actual increase, they also highlight a number of discrepancies in relation to the Stanhope government's own figures. The government's own performance report for the second quarter to December last year, 2005, shows that volunteer recruitment in the ESA is in fact 30 per cent below target for the year to date. The quarterly report also states:
Future intakes will depend on the availability of funds.
The September 2005 quarterly report stated, in relation to the recruitment of volunteers:
The ESA has only conducted one recruitment drive and is not able to recruit further at this stage due to resources.
While the government is today boasting about the increasing ESA volunteer numbers over the three financial years to 2005, there is a reversing trend appearing in the figures for this current financial year that shows a serious decline in achieving the targeted number of volunteers in future years. In other words, the trend of the previous three years has now reversed. From the explanations as to why volunteer recruitment levels are declining, it is likely the reason is that there is simply not the resources nor the funding to ensure ongoing recruitment by the ESA.
The quarterly performance report to December 2005 also shows that frontline training levels and support training levels for ESA workers were down significantly on the target, by 20 per cent and 57 per cent respectively. So much for an attitude of promoting and loving our volunteers! Altogether, the latest reports show a serious neglect by this government to ensure that there is sufficient funding and that there are sufficient recourses and equipment available to train all ESA personnel, volunteers included,