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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 27 November 2018) . . Page.. 4813 ..


MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (11.08): The statement that the minister has just given is another appalling attempt by the minister to shift the goalposts and hide his failures in the management of his portfolio. As the minister stated, the minimum crew requirement has been in place since 2002. It was updated in 2013. For 16 years, minimum crewing was perfectly fine. But the moment the shadow minister asked a question, which took the minister well over three months to answer, and the minister became aware of his complete screw-ups in this area, he foreshadowed, in debate earlier this year, that he would take away, potentially, the minimum crewing level.

Here we are—surprise, surprise—some months later. A report has been done and suddenly it is the advice of the report that we do not need a minimum crewing level. This provides no certainty, no confidence, to either the people of the ACT or the hardworking ambulance staff who work day and night for our safety. Amazingly, this measure is now suddenly arbitrary. But it was researched and it was put in place, and for over 16 years this government relied on that figure to determine how many ambulances we need. What a disgrace.

The moment that I begin asking questions and show how this minister has failed, things just disappear. It is hard to believe that we do not need more crews now than we did some years ago. It is hard to believe that we now should rely on some obscure number not outlined in the minister’s speech. We now have no idea how the minister will be determining how many ambulances Canberra should have—absolutely no idea. And his speech gives us no assurances that there will be any new calculations made, nor explains how those calculations will be made or why.

How did we get here? It was revealed through my questioning earlier this year, and starting last year, showing that there was by no means a will by this government to be transparent or to even know what problems were right under its nose—that 41.5 per cent of all ambulance shifts were crewed below the minimum crew level in 2016-17. That would have been a lot worse if it were not for the very hardworking members of the ACT Ambulance Service, who slog day and night. When they are asked to do overtime, at least some of them are doing a heck of a lot of that overtime. It is exhausting work and they need to be on board. This is no way to manage a workforce.

Not only this; it was revealed through a freedom of information request that the minister had sat on those figures for over 100 days past the due date, in an attempt to avoid or delay warranted public scrutiny. This is not about me; this is about the people of the ACT. This government has become remarkably arrogant in thinking that it can just hide, run away and shift the goalposts when the people of the ACT are asking for answers. It is absolute arrogance. It is not fair to either the members of the ACT Ambulance Service or the people who they willingly serve that this minister’s response to such scrutiny is to hide and take away any measure of whether he might be able to improve things or not.

The minister already foreshadowed this. He foreshadowed this in the debate earlier this year. Maybe, he said at the time, it is not the right measure anymore. Surprise, surprise. As I say, here we are today. The minister has form in delaying, holding,


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