Page 3145 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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The Australian Federal Police/ACT Policing specialist response and security team is the prime source of specialist skills and resources in the event of a counter-terrorism related incident. The SRS planning team, in consultation with relevant ACT government stakeholders, has developed key plans, including the ACT Policing counter-terrorism plan, a practical guide to the processing of chemical, biological and radiological suspicious packages incidents, and the ACT disaster victims identification plan.

The Emergency Services Authority, through the ACT emergency plan, provides first responders—that is, the fire brigade, the ambulance service, the rural fire service and the state emergency service—for any incident. ACT Health, through the health emergency subplan, provides strategic advice to the health sector’s planning, preparedness, response to and recovery from emergencies and disasters within the territory.

The Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, through the ACT community recovery subplan, coordinates community recovery activities for the ACT region in the event of any significant emergency. The Department of Urban Services and ACTION have undertaken risk assessments and developed a security plan for public transport that includes an awareness campaign entitled “If you see something, say something”.

All relevant agencies regularly participate in counter-terrorism related exercises at the operational, policy and strategic coordination levels, both in the ACT and nationally. The benefits of such exercises were amply demonstrated in the responses to the London bombings. The recent white powder incidents at several embassies and at Parliament House fully tested the ACT’s capability to deal with multiple real incidents and the lessons learned proved invaluable for agency planning and preparedness. It is worth noting that the ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia recently to have had this level of experience.

Uniform guidelines are being developed for the protection of critical infrastructure in the ACT, including national infrastructure, which is the responsibility of the national government. A major critical infrastructure exercise, White Out, will be conducted in the ACT in mid-September to consider critical dependency issues. Participants will include representatives from all ACT and Australian government agencies. A multijurisdictional exercise, Mercury 05, will be conducted in mid-October over a period of four days. All of the ACT’s counter-terrorism structures will be fully activated. Detailed briefings will be provided closer to the day.

MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.

MR GENTLEMAN: I have a supplementary question. Could the Chief Minister outline to the Assembly the ACT government’s approach to evacuation in the event of an incident?

MR STANHOPE: Yes, I can. The ACT Emergencies Act 2004, the ACT emergency plan and the evacuation strategy all combine to provide a high level of preparedness to effectively manage evacuations in the ACT. The development of partnerships with the community provides a greater capacity to manage complex situations and enables the emergency services to better deal with a specific incident. Its strength lies in a shared

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