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It is not disputed that Mr Gration made two calls. Telstra was unable to advise where the first call ended. In fact, they cannot confirm, by using their equipment, that a first call was made at all. At 5.54 am on Sunday, 7 May, Mr Gration called 000. His call was not answered by a Telstra operator. Due to a technical fault, the call dropped immediately to the ACT Fire Brigade - in line with the fail-safe procedures to ensure that all calls are answered. The Fire Brigade answered the 000 line and transferred the call to the ACT Ambulance Service. Mr Whitecross has claimed in a press release that this took 30 seconds to do. In fact, this call was recorded electronically, as all calls are, and the time it took to transfer the call was precisely nine seconds. An ambulance was dispatched immediately to a priority one situation. The ambulance arrived at the scene at 6.02 am, eight minutes after Mr Gration's second call. That response time satisfies procedures monitored by the ACT Ambulance Service.
Of some concern, however, is the first call Mr Gration says that he made at approximately 5.50 am. Due to a combination of some apparent technical failure and the fact that the Telstra automatic call diversion management information system in Canberra was not working that morning, Telstra advise that it is not possible to trace the whereabouts in the system of that call. A thorough search and a series of rechecks of call logging equipment by officers of the Australian Federal Police and the Emergency Services Bureau have revealed that no officer in either communications centre answered Mr Gration's call. I am advised by Telstra that it is impossible to ascertain exactly where that call went. I, however, as Minister, am satisfied that there was no call received by any of those officers in either of those places.
The instance of not being able to establish where the first call terminated has resulted in officials from the AFP and the Emergency Services Bureau working with Telstra to ensure that procedures for 000 call handling by Telstra, in the first instance, and Emergency Services, thereafter, are reliable. Telstra, I am advised, have undertaken some retraining of their staff. Police and Emergency Services procedures are deemed satisfactory at this point, but ongoing training is always available for staff in these areas. Telstra also have made improvements to their call management systems, which will enable easier tracing of future 000 calls. To put this issue into perspective, Mr Speaker, the 000 line receives some 16,000 calls a month. That is 203,000 calls a year. In all telephone services, technical faults are possible. I emphasise that Telecom itself manages 000 lines. The ACT Government does not; and we cannot be held responsible for a failure in Telecom's equipment.
The final aspect upon which I seek to comment is Mr Whitecross's claim that Canberra police need training in basic telephone manners and telephone transfer techniques. Mr Speaker, I have been approached by several police communications officers who have been hurt by this reflection on their professionalism. I now table a declaration from the Australian Federal Police, assuring me and the Assembly that Mr Gration's calls were not answered by any officer in AFP communications. In fact, during a three-hour search of all incoming police lines, no call from Mr Gration was received on a 000 line or any other telephone line into the police communications centre. I again call on Mr Whitecross to apologise to Canberra's police officers for this slur on their professionalism.