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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 3133..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

Services. Minister, the rural fire service, under pressure from your department, has declared a significant number of bushfire brigade front-line vehicles to be either unserviceable or has decided that these vehicles had to be removed from front-line duties-ie, relegated to just mopping up. This has led to a situation where up to 25 per cent of these front-line vehicles are unavailable for the use of firefighting. What caused these changes? When did you determine that the vehicles did not satisfy the relevant regulations? What is the nature of the regulations that have not been satisfied?

MR CORBELL: The premise of Mr Smyth's question is again quite wrong. I am happy to address these issues in some detail. It is not my department-some faceless bureaucrat in the Department of Justice and Community Safety-that has made this decision. It is the rural fire service that has made this decision. This is an operational decision made by the chief officer of the rural fire service-not by the chief executive of the Department of Justice and Community Safety; not by some faceless bureaucrat sitting here in Civic; but by the people responsible for the operational decisions about our rural fire service fleet.

It is not the case that up to 25 per cent of the fleet is unavailable for response. The advice I have before me today is that currently there are two vehicles that are unavailable because of a requirement for major suspension work, including the replacement of springs, on those vehicles. Those vehicles have been removed from service and, because of the nature of the work that needs to occur, that work needs to occur in Sydney. That major suspension replacement will be occurring. The first available transport and repair scheduling was for the week commencing 16 October. That is when that work will occur. The RFS has responsibility for managing its fleet and operational decisions about when vehicles are available and which number of vehicles are available is an operational decision for the RFS.

I take the advice, or indeed the information, of the RFS on these matters. It is not my decision, nor is it the decision of the chief executive of my department or some faceless bureaucrat, as the opposition would like to suggest. It is an operational decision by the chief officer of the rural fire service.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, how long has the RFS been aware of the need for this maintenance; how long have you been aware; and what action have you taken to ensure that these vehicles will be operational as soon as possible?

MR CORBELL: If Mr Smyth wants to outline which maintenance he is referring to, I am happy to try and answer his question.

Schools—closures

MR GENTLEMAN: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Mr Barr. Minister, the save our schools group recently released a paper outlining research which purported to show that small schools benefit students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Can you please inform the Assembly whether the ACT government school system will continue to provide quality education for all students now and into the future?


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