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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 (19 October) . . Page.. 3305..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

lease and the RFS are reaping the benefits of having a clear, designated headquarters for their own use.

MR MULCAHY: Minister, have there been any discussions between government representatives and the lessor at Fairbairn seeking to modify or terminate the lease?

MR CORBELL: The government continues to be in negotiations with the owners of the airport about the implementation of the remainder of the agreement. We have a heads of agreement with the airport to enter into individual leasing arrangements for a range of buildings. We have executed one of those leasing arrangements and we continue to finalise negotiations around the remainder of those leasing arrangements and options, and that is an important part of ensuring that we are able to get the headquarters we need within the price that the government has agreed to in that heads of agreement.

Emergency services—vehicle fleet

MR SESELJA: My question is to the minister for emergency services. Minister, on Tuesday, in response to a question from Mr Stefaniak, you said:

In relation to the overall maintenance of the RFS vehicle fleet, there is no doubt that elements of the RFS vehicle fleet are increasing in age, and that means that a higher level of maintenance and servicing is required to ensure that those vehicles maintain their operational readiness.

Why did the government fail to modernise the rural fire service vehicle fleet after the 2003 bushfires?

MR CORBELL: I do not know whether Mr Seselja has noticed, but we have, since 2003, made a significant investment in new vehicle capability for the RFS. The new compressed air foam system tankers that have been deployed to a range of volunteer brigades are evidence of that. I do not have the cost to hand, but it is certainly in the order of several million dollars for those vehicles. They are now operational within our RFS volunteer brigades and within some of the departmental brigades as well.

The overall age of the fleet is of concern to me, and when I became minister I asked for advice on aspects of that and what steps need to be taken to address that in a coherent and staged program that is sustainable and ongoing. That is something that I continue to work on as minister. I hope to be in a position to progress that when the government next considers resourcing for the RFS in the lead-up to the budget.

MR SESELJA: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, why did the government not ensure that essential repairs and maintenance were done over winter?

MR CORBELL: The ESA is given a budget. It is asked to work within that budget and to deliver. Its responsibility is to ensure that ongoing, everyday maintenance of vehicles is a task that is completed. The ESA have undertaken, and continue to undertake, ongoing maintenance of all vehicles in the ESA fleet, including the RFS fleet.

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