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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3219..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Given the age of some of the vehicles in the RFS fleet, decisions are continuing to be made as to whether or not those vehicles are available for first response. This is a matter on which I am seeking further advice from the RFS; indeed, I sought further advice prior to question time today.

At the end of the day these are operational matters for the RFS and the ESA. They are not matters where I, as minister, should intervene in decisions about the operational capacity of vehicles and whether or not vehicles should be made available for first or second response. The officers responsible for the operational response make those decisions.

The RFS can identify issues where they believe further funding and resourcing is required. That is a matter on which I will engage with them. I will treat those issues seriously and, as we head into the next budget round, I will make assessments as to what is possible in terms of improved resourcing.

I, as minister, am not responsible for which vehicles are or are not designated for first response. I do not sit down, as it seems Mr Pratt would like to do, and say, "Well, Molonglo 10 and Rivers 11 and Gungahlin 21"or whatever else it might be "should or should not be available for first response."I am in no position to make that judgment. I am not the person with the expertise, the skills or the experience to make that judgment. The chief officer of the RFS is, and I will rely on his advice.

MR PRATT: I ask a supplementary question. In terms of fireground status, minister, how many first response vehicles are now available, let us say, as at midday today? You can take the question on notice, if you like. Also, why did it take you and your bureaucrats until 13 days into the bushfire season to begin addressing the problems, which now clearly hamper our brigade and SES units?

MR CORBELL: The status of vehicles changes continually. Vehicles go in for servicing. They come back into the shed. Throughout the fire season and before the fire season vehicles routinely go to workshops for maintenance and servicing. That is a standard part of vehicles moving in and out of operational availability. I think it would be very silly to take a snapshot in time and say that that is the situation because it is a constantly changing situation. Vehicles come in and they go out. It is a very large fleet, with over 60 vehicles. I think it is silly to suggest that we can determine it by a particular moment in time.

I do not know what timeframe Mr Pratt is referring to. What is this 13 days business? I do not know what that is. It is probably some anecdote he has heard third hand along the grapevine somewhere that is completely irrelevant. Bureaucrats in the department of justice do not make decisions about the maintenance of vehicles. They are made by the operational officers of the RFS and the ESA, and that is properly where those decisions rest.

Alexander Maconochie Centre

MS PORTER: Could the Attorney-General please update the Assembly on the progress of the Alexander Maconochie Centre?

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