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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 November 2021) . . Page.. 3897 ..


The ability of the Emergency Services Agency to plan for and respond to emergencies is boosted by this bill. The bill creates the position of assistant emergency services commissioner to support the commissioner in the exercise of their functions. Offences relating to misuse of fire appliances are also consolidated to increase clarity and aid enforcement. The emergency services commissioner has been given a blanket power to issue fire permits, regardless of land tenure and ownership.

The bill also makes a number of governance and administrative changes. It clarifies the role of the Security and Emergency Management Senior Officials Group, and it provides more detail on when a state of alert and state of emergency may be declared. The commissioner will also be able to enter into cooperative arrangements with interstate agencies—rather than just the minister, as is currently the case. The powers of the chief officer to require a person to give reasonable assistance to a member of an emergency service are extended to include police officers and people acting on behalf of the emergency service. The commissioner and chief officers will be able to delegate their powers to a police officer. Currently, they can only do this to a public servant or a member of the emergency service.

Finally, the bill supports emergency service volunteers by extending the existing employment protection provisions in the act that protect emergency service volunteers who are victimised at their paid workforce as a result of their volunteering commitments during emergencies. I note the comments raised by the scrutiny committee, and I table my response, provided to the committee ahead of today’s debate:

Emergencies Amendment Bill 2021—Copy of Government response to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety (Legislative Scrutiny Role), dated 29 November 2021.

In bringing this bill, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the members of the Emergency Services Agency in Canberra, including our firefighters, paramedics, rural fire service, SES volunteers and support staff. Their sustained efforts help protect and serve the people of Canberra. The government is committed to ensuring that these members have the resources and legislative powers available to do their job the best way possible. The bill forms an important part of meeting that commitment, and I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Adjournment

Motion (by Mr Gentleman) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.


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