Page 2846 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 29 June 2011

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(d) how the restructure will improve the functioning of the Fire Management Unit and the Parks and Conservation Service; and

(e) all details of the consultation undertaken with staff.”.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.49): The more I hear from the minister the more concerned I get about what is being proposed because more contradictions appear. Mr Rattenbury has very kindly circulated the letter that the minister wrote back to Mr Rattenbury in regard to these changes. I just want to remind people what was said yesterday, that the title “fire management unit” is being changed but the functions remain unchanged. And then he finished with, apart from that, talking about the one position that is changed substantially, saying that apart from that the functions of the fire management unit remain unchanged.

I would contend that the fire management unit is in fact being abolished, and it is being broken into two units, one which will go into planning and one which will be an operational unit. So it is changing, and it is changing significantly, and you only have to look at the management by this minister of projects like the GDE and the prison and the new ESA headquarters to have grave concerns when he starts changing things.

If you read the letter that the minister wrote, I have concerns for some of the other staff as well. One of the lines says:

All the remaining fire staff that currently work in fire operations will be remaining in the operations area.

“That currently work” concerns me. One of the fears that the community is expressing to me is that they see a wind-back in this, a diminution of the numbers available, by the transfer of some of these officers back into the regions. That is a grave concern that people hold.

The third dot point in the minister’s letter contradicts itself. It opens by saying:

The fire operations area in Parks and Conservation Service remains as a single unit for the fire management across the estate as currently occurs, rather than the present situation where different managers in the service have different responsibilities for delivering different actions within the bushfire operational plan.

So it is going to remain as it currently occurs rather than the present situation—I do not understand what that means. Again that concerns me. This has all the hallmarks of something cobbled together to allay people’s fears.

The minister yesterday said, “Well, basically we are changing the name; it looks like one position is affected but apart from that nothing changes.” But now he makes the claim that the fire operational areas will be even more enhanced. The previous paragraph says they do not change, but suddenly they are enhanced.

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