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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3918 ..

Bushfires-volunteer firefighters

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Mr Wood. On 8 October, members of the southern ACT volunteer bushfire brigades expressed their lack of confidence in you and your department. In a vain attempt to defuse their anger, the ABC news of 9 October 2003 quotes you as saying:

I'm speaking from experience here. I would think the system allows the leader on the spot to make instant and key decisions.

Mrs Dunne: He said what? Can you say that again.

MR PRATT: "Instant and key decisions."This statement received a general laugh of derision. Why do you expect the public to have confidence in your preparation for the current bushfire season when the volunteer firefighters do not have any confidence in you?

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, Mr Pratt is putting a lean, a slant, inferences-

Mr Quinlan: Oh, no!

MR WOOD: I was surprised-on a meeting that I attended with senior officers. Unquestionably that was a meeting where there were strong statements made about a whole range of activities around firefighting.

In regard to the particular point you make, my statement was made in respect of a decision by an officer at a key time not to fight a fire at night. I think it is fairly self-evident and I cannot understand your concern that an officer on the spot who determines that there is an immediate problem does have the ability to make judgments about that. I do not have a difficulty with that and I do not know why you would.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. I do not think that is quite the case. Why are you so out of touch that you do not even know that experienced firefighters on the ground are not allowed discretion to make critical decisions?

Mrs Dunne: They have no discretion. You have to ring up and get permission.

MR WOOD: It did not happen on that occasion, did it?

Mr Corbell: Who set up the system?

MR WOOD: A question has just been asked by way of interjection, "Who set up this system?"But these are also issues-and I come back to what the Chief Minister said earlier-for determination at the coroner's inquiry and if there are concerns from that they will be examined in that quarter.


MS DUNDAS: My question is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family

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