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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 November 2007) . . Page.. 3554 ..

Emergency services—FireLink

MR SESELJA: My question is to the minister for emergency services. Minister, since 2003, the Emergency Services Agency and the former authority have received many millions of dollars to fund communications equipment and operating costs. Earlier this year the mobile data and vehicle location system—FireLink—was scrapped and many of the findings about communication systems from the McLeod and Doogan reports are still to be fulfilled. Minister, why does the Emergency Services Agency still resort to using a manual tracking system of a whiteboard and markers to manage our RFS and SES units in the field?

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The issues with FireLink have been well canvassed in this place. I have put on the record my serious disappointment with the failure of the previous Emergency Services Authority to properly manage the procurement and implementation of that technology. The government has taken steps to ensure that that sort of failure of management by the senior officials of the Emergency Services Authority is not to be repeated.

We have put in place mechanisms to ensure that all individual IT procurement projects are approved by cabinet in advance of their purchase and that properly detailed business cases are in place. That has been the government’s response to the failure by senior management to properly manage that project previously.

In relation to the question asked by Mr Seselja, I can indicate that the arrangements that are in place are tried and tested arrangements that work well in many scenarios across the country and are regularly used by rural fire services in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. This is a common methodology which is used regularly, consistently and reliably.

I have previously indicated to the Assembly that the final resolution of the best technology to manage the tracking of vehicles is still to be determined through an appropriate business case. Until that is done I will not be repeating the mistakes of others in committing to a particular technology which has not yet been fully assessed.

Mr Pratt: So five years after the 2003 fires we might get around to it?

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt! You have already had your question. Mr Seselja wants to ask a supplementary question.

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, where have all the funds that were intended for communications equipment and recurrent costs been spent?

MR CORBELL: I am very happy to advise members on where it has been spent. The bulk of it has been spent on a state-of-the-art digital radio network which now provides comprehensive coverage throughout an overwhelming majority of the territory. As I advised Mr Pratt in my earlier answer, Mount Tennant has now been established as a radio relay point for the TRN network. That has provided us with comprehensive coverage—

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