Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (15 November) . . Page.. 3510..
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Emergencies Amendment Bill 2006
Debate resumed from 18 October 2006, on motion by Mr Pratt:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (12.08): Mr Speaker, the government will be opposing Mr Pratt's amendments to the Emergencies Act 2004. Mr Pratt presented this bill to the Assembly on 18 October this year. He wants to change the Emergencies Act 2004 and exempt provisions of the Financial Management Act 1996 in relation to gifts and donations to rural fire brigades and SES operational units. Mr Pratt wants this government to amend the Emergencies Act in such a way that money donated to rural fire brigades and SES units will not be considered as public money and that the Financial Management Act will not apply to money held or applied under his proposed arrangements.
Mr Speaker, members of the public who donate money to brigades and units of the RFS or SES have an expectation that it will be used for the purposes of the RFS or SES. The existing governance arrangements make it clear to the public that money is actually spent on the intended purpose. The Financial Management Act provides these governance arrangements.
There has been throughout this debate no suggestion by me or by the emergency services agency that there has been any improper use of funds or any misappropriation of funds but that does not mean, nor does it follow, that appropriate arrangements and procedures should not be in place to ensure that moneys provided to SES and RFS units are provided and managed consistent with the Financial Management Act.
The ESA is committed to ensuring that appropriate governance arrangements are in place in relation to donations. To this end, legal advice was sought by the previous commissioner in relation to the best way that donated moneys should be managed. After that advice was received, the current commissioner of the ESA met with the volunteer brigades association and other representatives of the RFS and the SES to discuss this issue with a view to developing a way forward that all involved could support.
Mr Speaker, it has to be remembered that when volunteers of the RFS or the SES receive a donation they are, to all intents and purposes, representing the emergency services agency and it is, of course, a government agency. Volunteers are representatives of their brigade or unit within the RFS or the SES which is part of the ESA, which is an agency of a government department and which is part of the government itself.