Page 1071 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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DR FOSKEY: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, what opportunities will the community have to engage in the review? Can we be assured that they will feel as though their feedback has been attended to?

MR CORBELL: I certainly intend that opportunities for public submission will be available and an avenue open to people as part of that process.

Emergency services—response protocols

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, I refer to the decision of parks brigade, and the subsequent changes to operating procedures for volunteers, not to allow bushfire vehicles to respond to reports of emergency incidents with lights and sirens, in a manner that allows them to break the road rules when safe and reasonable to do so. Under the new procedures, if there were a major bushfire threatening property, houses and lives in the ACT, volunteers and members of parks brigade would have to stop at every stop sign and every red traffic light while responding to the incident. Minister, given the shortcomings exposed during the 2003 bushfires, when will you stop your bureaucrats interfering with the ability of emergency services to protect the community?

MR HARGREAVES: My heavens, I was hurt by the second part of that question. The answer is that I will not go down that track at all. But I have to admire Mrs Dunne for standing up here and displaying such magnificent shining ignorance of our processes. When people in fact report a fire and the brigade is given the okay by comms centre to go to that fire and that engagement is acknowledged, they are allowed to do that, Mrs Dunne. Have another look at the rules.

MRS DUNNE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. While observing that the minister does not know that they have changed the standard operating procedure, I ask the minister: is he aware of comments made in the ACT court of appeal last year in the judgment of Norman v Spiers that the law in the ACT reflects the community expectation that drivers of emergency vehicles can take risks that others cannot in responding to incidents?

MR HARGREAVES: I refer Mrs Dunne to the answer to the question she put on notice on this very subject only recently, which I have signed off.

Rural fire services—radio network

MR PRATT: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. On 9 March 2005, at the time of a grass fire in Chisholm, a rural fire services officer used his radio to transmit a white alert call to the Emergency Services Authority. As he did not receive any response, he used his mobile phone to alert the authority.

Minister, why was this emergency radio call not acknowledged or answered? Why was the authority’s monitoring service of the Rural Fire Service primary radio network apparently not working?

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