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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 137 ..

ACTAS staff for their continued efforts to care and protect the Canberra community. For Mrs Jones to say that ACTAS is grossly under-resourced is nothing but scaremongering. As I have just explained, ACTAS has been managing well. But with demand increasing, and expected to keep increasing, the government has taken action to support our committed ambulance workforce into the future. This will ensure ACTAS can continue to meet the community’s increasing expectations.

In closing, the women and men of ACTAS do a great job each and every day. They have no greater champion than me as minister for emergency services. I acknowledge and respect their skill and dedication, and this government will continue to prioritise supporting them and the work they do to care for the Canberra community.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (11.49): I welcome the opportunity to discuss our Ambulance Service in the chamber today. I certainly agree with plenty of what Mrs Jones has said on this particular issue: our Ambulance Service is critically important; it needs to be well-resourced and well-managed; it is a service where performance can literally mean the difference between life and death. I also agree we have hardworking, committed staff in the ACT Ambulance Service. They do a tough job, but it is also a very important job. We have all at times either read in the press or heard ourselves the stories of ambulance officers being assaulted when they go to help people. I find it extraordinary that when they are there trying to save somebody from either an accident or sometimes self-inflicted situations they have to face that sort of threat. That is very disappointing and underlines how tough the job can be.

I have also heard great stories about how rewarding it is in the sense of people’s gratitude to ambulance officers. That is obviously a reward they do not expect but is there in knowing they have made a significant contribution to people’s lives when they most need it. I guess both ends of the spectrum are there for our ambulance officers in terms of the challenges and the rewards they face.

I also have no disagreement with the first part of Mrs Jones’s motion: she has identified a metric that the Ambulance Service is using and which is not being met a fair proportion of the time. That is the metric which measures whether there is a full crew of ambulance staff on a 24-hour shift. As we have discussed today, that means 10 ambulances and two demand crews. That is relevant information, and Mrs Jones has made some good inquiries and brought interesting information to the attention of the public and the Assembly. I was not aware of this particular metric about ambulance staffing until now, and it has prompted me to seek out some information from the minister and his office about it.

I do not agree with the conclusion Mrs Jones draws from this information, however. She has asserted that the ACT Ambulance Service is grossly under-resourced. I do not believe that to be true. Mr Gentleman has gone into this in some detail. The stand-out fact for me is that the response time of the ACT Ambulance Service is the best in the country and has been for many years running. That is surely the important measurement when it comes to ambulances. They are called on for emergencies and they need to respond quickly, and the data shows us that they are doing that in a very effective way.

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