Page 4124 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 15 November 2005

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community be assured that the ESA is well prepared for the coming bushfire season when you have not ensured that the full target of volunteers has been recruited and trained?

MR HARGREAVES: On a number of fronts. The first thing is that our preparedness does not rest wholly and solely on volunteers. It never has. We have other things. For example, we have, believe it or not, a fire service. We have an SES unit. We also have an ambulance service. We have police officers. We have a range of areas within the fighting arms of the ESA that are very fully prepared. We also have advanced technology. We have compressed air foam appliances up and down the urban fringe and we have more of those coming online.

Our technological preparation has been particularly well created. Our emergency coordination centre is up and running. We have a much better communications system. On top of that we have a communications strategy to tell the people of the ACT what to do in the event of a warning signal. We also have MOUs with the media so that people can be given plenty of notice and also advice on what to do. We have put a very fine document in the letterboxes of every household in the ACT. The people of the ACT can have every confidence that we are exponentially better prepared than we have ever been.

Mr Pratt’s scaremongering that we have not met a particular target of recruiting volunteers equates to the fact that we should be not only alert but also afraid. I reject that completely. In fact, I think the people of the ACT can have every confidence that we are a heck of a lot better prepared. In a perverse kind of sense, we are actually waiting for something to happen because we know that our levels of training are up, the number of our personnel is up, the number of our appliances is up, the technology is high, our radio system is a heck of a lot better than it ever was before, and the service is being ably led by people who know what they are doing, and I have every confidence in them.

I only wish that Mr Pratt would stop sniping away on the sidelines and come out and express confidence in those troops and those volunteers. Whenever volunteers or paid people go out in a disaster they need the full support of the community behind them. They need their moral to be up, not down. All Mr Pratt has done in the whole discussion about preparedness for disaster, whether it be flood disaster, power failures, bushfires, earthquakes, CBR, terrorist attacks or anything else, is put forward negative little snippets. This is having its effect on those people who are in the front line and I urge him to desist.

Model litigant guidelines

DR FOSKEY: My question to the Attorney-General is in regard to the government’s behaviour as a model litigant. The Greens have received a disturbing number of credible reports in which it is alleged that ACT government agencies or their representatives have not been acting in compliance with the ACT’s model litigant guidelines. One particularly disturbing development appears to be a pattern of failure to comply with or enforce orders of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Given that the AAT has traditionally relied on the good faith of government agencies to implement its orders, the Greens are concerned that there is no independent review or oversight of the government’s adherence to the model litigant guidelines.

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