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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4699 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

I must congratulate the men and women who fought in the field so bravely and tenaciously, but were they well served by the current ESB structure? I think that the answer becoming increasingly apparent is that they really were not. Statutory authorities are created to allow independence of operation and training for the major emergency agencies and currently agencies are subsumed within the ESB conglomerate, unable to train and properly develop their capabilities.

Despite that in relation to Mr Pratt's bill, he tells me that interoperability will still be guaranteed. The opposition plans to ensure that regular joint training and planning will be undertaken to ensure familiarity and equipment and operational procedures will be designed so that all agencies can operate together, a seamless coming together when they are actually needed. The bushfire services model and statutory authority is the basis for the other two agency models. This is a standalone bill because it involves the creation of three new authorities.

At the end of the day, I do get back to my initial point in relation to the volunteers, to the expertise that they have, to the fact that they do have so much to offer. They have made representations to a number of governments in the past, ones which all governments have ignored to an extent at times, and ignored to their peril. It seems that this government in particular is going down that path. I think that is a great shame. A number of suggestions were made after the fires of December 2001. Perhaps if some of those had been taken up-

Mr Corbell: They were all implemented, Bill.

MR STEFANIAK: That is another thing entirely, Mr Corbell.

Mr Corbell: They were all implemented. That's a myth that the Liberal Party is spreading. Every single recommendation was implemented.

MR STEFANIAK: I think you are a bit wrong there. That just shows how it is crucially important to pay heed to what the real experts actually say. We have a situation now where these volunteers-in many instances, individuals with decades of experience; some of the brigades probably have hundreds of years of experience in total-are putting forward what they feel to be a sensible model out of a number of models and it is basically the Pratt model with a few additions which they would prefer to have. I think that should tell the government something. Like Mr Smyth, I think that it is a shame that it seems that this bill is going to be defeated.

MR PRATT (4.37), in reply: Firstly, I thank particularly the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Smyth, for his eloquent and comprehensive comments, which were clearly based on sound experience. They came from the heart and I appreciate that. Also, I thank Mr Stefaniak, who has held the relevant portfolio in the past in a ministerial capacity. I thank Mr Corbell for his contribution. I recognise Mr Corbell as a volunteer and I and, of course, everybody else appreciate his efforts in the field. I guess that sentiment is held throughout the community with respect to our volunteers.

Mr Corbell called on McLeod as an authority in rejecting the proposed model. I have to say that it does not fit here because we know that the volunteers and others experienced

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