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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 6 March 2008) . . Page.. 623 ..

of full confidence in all officers in the headquarters of the Rural Fire Service. I have been advised that this motion was prompted by scathing criticism of the RFS headquarters officers by the leadership of the ESA and the Department of Justice and Community Safety at a meeting three weeks ago between you, minister, senior bureaucrats and volunteers. Minister, do you and your commissioner share the full confidence of the brigade captains in all RFS officers?

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank Mr Pratt for the question. The answer is yes.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Pratt.

MR PRATT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, if you have full confidence in the officers of the RFS headquarters, as you have now professed, why did you, supported by the commissioner, in the words of those present—I seek your indulgence, Mr Speaker—“bag the shit out of the RFS officers”, in other words, scathingly criticise them?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Pratt, withdraw that. That is unparliamentary.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I will withdraw the word, which was a quote. I will insert “bag the stuffing”, if that is better. As a paraphrase of the actual words used, I will insert “bag the stuffing out of the RFS officers”.

MR CORBELL: I did not, Mr Speaker, and the suggestion that I did is wrong.

Mr Seselja: They are lying?

MR CORBELL: I beg your pardon.

Mr Seselja: They are lying, you are saying?

MR CORBELL: No, I am not saying that. I am just saying that is not what I said. It is important to remember that this is a forum that I put in place as minister to encourage regular and ongoing dialogue between me, the commissioner and other senior officers of the ESA and the RFS and all the volunteer services. That meeting involved representatives of the CFU consultative committee, representatives of volunteers from the RFS, representatives from volunteers of the SES and the relevant staff from my department and the ESA.

It is a very useful forum. I make an explicit effort to ensure that I am there nine times out of 10, and that is certainly what occurs. I think I have missed one meeting, Mr Smyth. I am sorry about that, but nine times out of 10 I am there. That is the important thing.

I think it is important to clarify for the Assembly the comments I was making. The point I was making in that meeting was my frustration that of all the services—and there are four services within the ESA—only one service is yet to have in place and implemented, indeed, even agreed to, its business plan. That service is the RFS. The

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