Page 4896 - Week 15 - Thursday, 15 December 2005
Further, I observe that Mr Pratt’s diatribe referred only in part to the financial issues in the ESA. He quoted one line from page 4 of the Auditor-General’s report. I suspect that he did not get to page 5. Yesterday I referred members to pages 52 and 53, notably page 52, in which the Auditor-General gave an unqualified report. Mr Pratt questioned what trends exist within the expenditure patterning of the ESA. That is an audit. The annual reports are audited every year. The Auditor-General is entitled to audit the books any time she feels like it.
A committee is absolutely not necessary. If anybody is on a witch-hunt, it is Mr Pratt. He probably has the record for the most number of questions on notice in this place since its inception in 1988. The questions on notice Mr Pratt has been delivering have used up an inordinate amount of the time of the officers of the ESA. Mr Pratt has been provided with immense detail, incredible reams of detail. Further, Mrs Dunne’s FOI request in respect of one of the issues was some 700 pages long. Did Mr Pratt bother to go and ask Mrs Dunne if he could look at it? No, he did not.
Over the last 12 months he has gone on some incredible fishing trips through the questions on notice process. In my view—I do not know whether the Assembly shares it or not; it is my personal view—he has abused the system. He has not followed up with very many questions asking for supplementary information. Most of his questions did not have to be put on notice. They could easily have been cleared up with a simple letter to my office. A lot of it could have been done with briefings, and they would have been quite happily provided. But, no, he does not like that at all.
In fact, in June 2004 Mr Pratt was actually extolling the virtues of the ESA. In the debate on the Emergencies Bill, he said:
… it is pleasing that at least the legislation will provide much clearer direction, much clearer benchmarks and reforms for organisations that were once thought to be cumbersome. With a few amendments, it will also provide clearer guidance to, and inspire greater confidence in, the community and, most importantly, the men and women of emergency services. I commend the bill to the house.
Have we seen any amendments from Mr Pratt? No, Mr Speaker. I assume, therefore, that Mr Pratt is happy with the frameworks in which the officers of the ESA work.
Mr Pratt suggests, through innuendo, that the town is not protected; that it is no better off than it was three or four or five years ago. Essentially, he is saying that the management of the ESA is not doing their work. He conveniently forgets that we have complied with all but two of the McLeod recommendations. For the benefit of Mr Pratt, let me highlight some of the achievements of the ESA.
The strategic bushfire management plan provides a response at operational and tactical levels. We did not have that before. The emergency management committee has been revitalised. I have seen it in action. Efficient internal governance structures have been established. The structures exist, and I have confidence in them.
Chief officers and deputy chief officers have been appointed for each of the services of the ESA. They are all equal. Under the ESP regime, the SES and RFS were not equal. They are now. A state of the art computer aided dispatch system, incorporating mobile