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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3438..


Bushfires-parks brigade

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. Minister, will you give an undertaking that no rangers positions, parks brigade personnel positions or parks brigade equipment will be lost in the current TAMS review; or, as you were quoted as saying in the Canberra Sunday Times on 5 November, don't you "give a rat's arse"about being open and transparent on the matter?

MR HARGREAVES: I would like to address two of those. That article in the Canberra Sunday Times did not quote the full contents of the conversation. In fact, we were talking about the requests for information from Mr Watts of that illustrious journal, the Sunday Canberra Times, who rang the office at a quarter to five on a Friday afternoon requiring a whole raft of pieces of information. I considered it quite inappropriate that it happened.

Whilst they can have those demands of my office, they do not have to be, three weeks in a row, requiring our public servants to work past that time and deny them time with their families. I told that reporter that the reason why it was an inappropriate request at that particular time was because he was denying people time with their families. Had that reporter asked me the day before, or at nine o'clock that morning, I would have happily got that information. However, I will not ask my officers to sacrifice their family time to satisfy the inappropriate whims of a very junior journalist from the Canberra Sunday Times.

Turning to the a substantive issue Mr Pratt raises, the Department of the Territory and Municipal Services is required, under the bushfire operational plan component of the strategic bushfire management plan, to provide certain resources for bushfire mitigation. Those bushfire operational plans are signed off and approved by the commissioner of the Emergency Services Agency. TAMS is totally compliant with that bushfire operational plan and will remain that way.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. As we are nearly halfway through the financial year, when will these decisions about the parks brigade be made?

MR HARGREAVES: as I understand it, a substantive part of Mr Pratt's question went to the resources the Department of the Territory and Municipal Services is going to apply to bushfire mitigation and response.

Mr Pratt: Shall I reread it to him, Mr Speaker?

MR HARGREAVES: As I understand it, that is the question. I have indicated to Mr Pratt that we will fully comply with the bushfire operational plans. We intend to do that. We accept our responsibility under the strategic bushfire management plan.

Mr Pratt: So the brigade will go.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Pratt, of course, jumps to all manner of conclusions-quite inappropriately. He would know that the provision of resources in bushfire mitigation is dependent on two particular resources being available. One of them is personnel

and the other is the training available to those personnel. The government does not shirk its responsibilities in this regard.


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