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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3814 ..


Debate resumed from 10 December 1998, on motion by Mr Humphries:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR HARGREAVES (11.58): Mr Speaker, this Bill provides the ACT with a formal structure for emergency management in the context of a declared emergency. The object of the Bill is to ensure that a comprehensive plan exists which involves the relevant organisations and departments, not to mention all emergency services. The philosophy behind this Bill is an excellent one. The ACT needs a plan that kicks in as soon as possible when an emergency is declared. We need a plan that allows for preparedness, a flexible response and ultimately an efficient recovery. This is what this Bill is attempting to do.

The Justice and Community Safety Committee was able to consult the major stakeholders who were dissatisfied with the Bill. The committee was concerned that it was not a good start to effective emergency management when the people who would be working under the legislation had such problems. It may have taken longer than the Government's preferred timetable before we came up with an agreeable piece of legislation, but surely legislation which has support right across the board should be our goal. Not taking time to listen to concerns can only lead to a risk of perpetuating problems and in some cases can create animosity amongst the services. An emergency is the one time we will need all the services to work as a united team. That said, I acknowledge the work of the Emergency Services Bureau in bringing together the various firefighting agencies within its structure.

I do not believe that we should let this Bill slip through to the keeper. It would be irresponsible of the Assembly to allow such an enormous change to go through without fully exploring all areas of concern or taking on board the expert advice available.

Some of the problems identified have been dealt with by the Minister. I would like to congratulate the Government on the amendments they are bringing forward. I think they address most of the concerns that have been expressed by the various players, by the committee and by us. I thank the Government for doing that. I flag that we will be supporting their amendments, so we can dispense with this legislation rather quickly.

The Minister has dealt with the appointment of the Territory Controller, which is great. In the original draft there was a duplication of roles between the Emergency Management Committee and the management executive. I am pleased to see that that will not now be the case.

The ALP will move an amendment relating to the Ambulance Service. The inclusion of the Ambulance Service in this Bill raises concerns that this is the beginning of bringing all services under the one Act. There is no secret about that. Indeed, I am grateful to the Government for being so open about it, because it allows us to debate the matter in the

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