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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3821 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

have the fire service in the legislation either. What is the emergency management legislation without those services covered by it?

I come back to the comments I made before. This is about seamless delivery of services to the people of the ACT. It is about getting a high-quality service. In that process there has been an absolutely clear level of resistance from some members of some agencies to the idea of having to work more closely with other agencies. That is basically about protecting turf. Now we are being told by some here that we should ensure the continuation of those turf wars - or those turf rivalries, if I can put it in a more neutral way - by excising key emergency response agencies from the legislation.

A few years ago I remember being lobbied by my predecessor, Mr Connolly, about the changes that were being made at that stage to transfer responsibility for road accident responses from the Australian Federal Police to the Fire Brigade. Mr Connolly made an argument for that to happen. He persuaded me that once the decision had been implemented we should not reverse it as we at one stage indicted that we would. He persuaded me on the basis that it is a step towards making sure that we put agencies in charge of things which are most appropriately under their control and that we persuade agencies to start to work together in a more effective way. Without taking his name in vain, I think that when he was Minister he shared the objective of trying to make agencies work together and trying to reduce the extent of these two flaws.

Since becoming Minister, I have understood that objective much more clearly, and I think we have to support it. I appeal to Ms Tucker to ask herself why she would guarantee these sorts of turf rivalries. I know of no reason why we should be doing that. This is about making sure our services operate under the same rules. We can do that only by having them under the same piece of legislation. What conceivable reason is there not to have the Ambulance Service part of an emergency management response in this legislation?

MR KAINE (12.26): In the committee we did look at whether the arrangements the Government proposed for the Ambulance Service were appropriate, and some of us had the view that it could have been done differently. There is some question in my mind about whether it might have been better done some other way. But given the point that we have reached, where the Bill is now being debated, I am prepared to accept the Government's position on this for the time being. This is the sort of Bill which I think we all should keep under review to see how it is working. It is an important piece of legislation and one that will impact significantly on the community when an emergency arises. I think we should review it frequently to make sure it is working well.

My only real objection to the Government's proposals was the inclusion in a Bill such as this of the provision for the collection of the emergency services levy. It seems to me that this is a strange piece of legislation to contain a specific provision for a tax such as that - the Government chooses to call it a levy - and the collection of that tax. Some other head of legislation might have been more appropriate. But there is no amendment before the Assembly to change that arrangement, to excise that particular provision from

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