Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (19 August) . . Page.. 2794 ..
MR PRATT (continuing):
disaster. We need to learn from those outcomes, because this community needs to get itself ready for future fire seasons.
There is also ample evidence that the inquiry was indeed far less independent than it could or should have been. First, there are some very strong indications-and this is very disturbing-that this report, in its finality, had significant departmental input. Is that independent? Is that an inquiry standing back from this government's departments? Second, why did this inquiry not undertake public hearings? Public hearings did not occur.
Let me point out one major recommendation in the McLeod report which I find disappointing. In relation to the Emergency Services Bureau, Mr Ron McLeod is quite correct in stating that we need to establish a statutory authority. He is quite correct in saying that we need to pull the Emergency Services Bureau or the family of emergency agencies out from under JACS. He is quite right about that, but he is wrong about the shape of the organisation that he thinks should be established as that statutory authority.
However, this government has blindly accepted that recommendation without any further analysis or consultation with the community. The government has been premature in calling for those recommendations to be accepted because we are going to see a failed bureaucracy replaced by another bureaucracy which will fail. It is very important that our emergency agencies be lean and mean and operationally fit, with direct reporting lines to the minister, without a bureaucracy like the one we currently see choking off those vital operational decisions that have to be made quickly. However, we are not going to get that if we blindly accept this recommendation that we are looking at now.
The government really needs to go out and listen to the community and listen to the firefighters, listen to the-
Mr Stanhope: You do not have a clue, do you, Steve? You do not have a clue, mate.
MR PRATT: I have a better clue than you, mate. Listen to what the community is saying about the way that our emergency agencies need to be organised.
Mr Speaker, the government has taken little notice of the operational audit report of May 2003 which stated that the Emergency Services Bureau was dysfunctional. Exactly the criticisms that the audit report has of that agency are going to be carried across in the current model that the inquiry is recommending.
There are questions that should be answered and addressed. The community should be consulted on all recommendations before any further action is taken or any appropriation occurs and before there is any blind implementation of the recommendations of the McLeod report.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (4.18): I was not going to speak in this particular debate but, after that last speech, I think there are a couple of things I ought to say.