Page 4505 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I will re-ask the question. It is about the police issue—

MR SPEAKER: You can ask a supplementary question.

MR SMYTH: I will then ask a supplementary question about the policy concerning an after-hours call out for the CAT team. Is it true that CAT teams will go on site after hours only with a police escort of at least two officers? If so, given the pressure on police resources and numbers—given that you claim to have put so much more money into community mental health—is it the lack of police numbers causing the long delays in CAT teams reaching seriously ill people?

MR SPEAKER: I think that is the same question.

Mr Smyth: No, Mr Speaker; I have put in the bit about the lack of money, and I have asked the minister whether it is the lack of police numbers.

MR CORBELL: I am not aware of the protocols relating to the CAT team. Again, I am happy to make inquiries and advise the member of the operational protocols of the CAT team. If Mr Smyth seriously thinks that I know the operating protocols for every element of the ACT health system, he is sadly mistaken. Nor should I. Thousands and thousands of people work in the ACT health system. They all operate within particular protocols, arrangements and understandings. In relation to the CAT team, I am very happy to confirm or deny the arrangements once I have sought further information.

It is worth making the point that there are occasions on which the CAT team does seek police attendance, particularly if someone is behaving in a violent manner, or is threatening to be violent. That is a normal and a sensible arrangement for the security of staff, as well as for the person concerned. Whether that was the case in the incident that Mr Smyth alludes to, I do not know. I have already indicated that I will seek that information and provide it to the member as soon as possible.

Emergency services

MS PORTER: My question is to the minister for emergency services. Minister, now that we are officially into the 2005-06 bushfire season, can you inform the Assembly of the advances the government has made in the area of emergency services since the January 2003 bushfires?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms Porter for the question. The Stanhope government has made a significant investment in the protection of the Canberra community in emergencies through major emergency services reforms borne out of the experience of the 2003 bushfires.

The first of its type, the Emergencies Act 2004, introduced a new era of emergency response in the ACT by updating and clarifying the planning and organisation of our ambulance, bushfire, fire and state emergency services and drawing them together under a more strategically focused management structure—the Emergency Services Authority. The Stanhope government, through the ESA, has achieved many changes in the ACT that have resulted in our being better prepared for an emergency than ever before. Over

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