Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3664 ..
any government service in any state or territory in this country, of course you can always find fault.
The issues that Mr Stefaniak has talked about and has, no doubt, talked about in his dissenting report are of concern to him. Yes, there are concerns about people not seeing eye to eye, but I think that is inherent within this culture. You cannot make people like each other, and just because somebody does not like the commissioner does not mean that there is going to be a problem. Just because somebody does not agree with the way the commissioner does things does not mean that there will be a problem.
I commend the main report and I commend my dissenting comments in terms of adding to things that I think should have been taken out. I am sorry that I did not get to those things, but I think it is important that I put that down as dissenting comments.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (7.45): I want to echo my fellow committee members’ thanks to the committee secretaries and to acknowledge the other members of my committee. I have to say that a committee of three is quite an intense little being. There we were, the three of us, pretty much the whole time. There was a spell when Mr Seselja was there instead of Mr Stefaniak. We went to Tasmania together at one point in our inquiry about police powers. A certain amount of bonding takes place. I really appreciate that about being in this place—the connections that one can form across parties. I want to see more of that.
In terms of this report, you might say that, since I am the only one who did not write a dissenting report, this must be my report. Yet, the process of consensus being what it is, there is an inevitable watering down. There are things in this report where I feel as though I compromised. But then again, is it really compromise? Are the issues around wildfire in the ACT so complex that it is not possible for three people to deal with the issue—especially when one is a member of the government; one is a member of the opposition with a very well articulated view which does not appear to me to have changed at all in the four years in this place; and one is a Greens person, me, with my perspective.
My perspective means that I am not able to agree with Mr Stefaniak’s report—it was where Mr Stefaniak and I argued most in the committee—about the appropriateness of preventive burns, controlled burning. It is not just because I am a Green. I also come from the bush. That means that I might have different views from a lot of other Greens. I have actually fought wildfires. I have seen wildfires start. I have watched other people fight them. I have seen various ways in which they are approached. To me, we have here a very complex issue.
I also feel that our report did not really touch upon—and, because of our terms of reference, could not touch upon—the issues about culture within the ACT emergency services. This was there; it was the elephant in the room. I cannot say how long lived these divisions between the Rural Fire Service, for instance, and the bureaucracy have been, but I would say that they are fairly long lived.
I would also like to say that things have moved. My first experience of emergency services was in the 1980s, in a situation I will not go into here. At that time, there was