Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 (19 October) . . Page.. 3304..
MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Minister, how have you managed since 2003-04 to spend approximately $18 million on communications, especially on the TRN radio network, yet, after three years, it does not work successfully across the territory?
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, the TRN works extremely effectively across large elements of the ACT but, like any radio network—and VHF is the same—there are elements of the territory with which it is difficult to achieve coverage due to the nature of the terrain. I can assure members that the TRN works effectively in the built-up area, it works effectively in the bushfire abatement zone and it works effectively in many other areas outside the bushfire abatement zone around the ACT. TRN has given us a capability we did not have before, and that is interoperability with a range of the emergency services and interoperability with New South Wales services. That is one of the major recommendations of the McLeod review—a recommendation that we have implemented and which is giving us that interoperability with New South Wales.
Mrs Dunne and the opposition just need to check their facts a little on this issue. The explanation that the government has given about why TRN is not used as the primary communication channel has been up front from the beginning. It is not something we have sought to hide; it is not something we have walked away from. We have explained the technical constraints that we still face in some elements of the ACT. But TRN gives us very, very effective communication right across the built-up area, right across the bushfire abatement zone and right across many other parts of the ACT. There remain a few isolated elements where we still need to achieve effective coverage, and the ESA continues to work with the providers of the radio network in addressing that. We have not provided any additional appropriation for TRN in the most recent budget. It is working within its budget and it will continue to be rolled out until we are at a point where we have the level of coverage sufficient to make that the primary channel for RFS operations.
Mr Pratt: Well, the volunteers are peed off about it.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Pratt, I warn you.
Emergency Services Authority—headquarters
MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, during question time on 15 December last year, your predecessor announced that the new emergency services headquarters precinct was to be established at Fairbairn, with some parts of the ESA to be moving into buildings as early as February 2006. Has the government begun paying for the new headquarters at Fairbairn under the lease agreement and are you still confident that, in light of the difficult budgetary position, you can afford to do so for the remainder of the lease?
MR CORBELL: Yes, elements of the ESA have already relocated to Fairbairn. The RFS have relocated to Fairbairn and that lease has been executed. The RFS occupy a building at Fairbairn which is used also as our air support operations centre. Payments are being made for that lease, and I have no reason to believe that we will not be in a position to continue to pay for that lease for the duration of its term. It is a relatively long