Page 2836 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 29 June 2011
He goes on to refer to the then Department of Urban Services, now TAMS, and “an ambiguity in reporting and structural arrangements for land management agencies during suppression operations directed by the … Bushfire Service”. It is an interesting chapter. He says:
The land management agencies have only just begun to rebuild this expertise. A decision to introduce a full-time fire coordination policy officer in the Department of Urban Services, to assist—
is a good idea and he insists on better communication and understanding between both portfolios, the other being Emergency Services, to work very closely “in a spirit of mutual trust”. He says:
This will happen only with the right lead from the top of the two organisations concerned.
McLeod also highlights problems which were raised during the inquiry about the relationship between the ACT Rural Fire Service, Emergency Services and TAMS not being as close as it should. And it is worth giving the government credit, particularly the officers in the fire management unit, for the way they have made that work over the last seven or eight years.
I think the absolutely critical point is to note that McLeod highlighted the need for TAMS to have appropriate expertise in fire management functions and that the expertise within TAMS be centralised and not dispersed. There are the recommendations of course that follow:
The Chief Executives of … Urban Services and … Justice should work together to develop a means by which the public land managers and the ACT Bushfire Service can achieve a strongly mutually supportive relationship.
It goes on to say:
Operational procedures should be amended once additional land management resources are in place, to reflect the responsibility of land managers to initiate the first response to fires on land that they manage—
always understanding that the RFS has ultimate control.
Indeed, Maria Doogan, in her coronial report on the January 2003 bushfire disaster, and on the deaths of four people in that disaster, also made a number of comments and reached a number of conclusions about the role of the public sector in land management. Let us deal briefly with the three relevant recommendations made by Coroner Doogan, recommendations 39, 40 and 41, where she stated:
… that it be a matter of policy and practice that the relevant land management agency is responsible for the initial response—