Page 3402 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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I expect to have that in the near future—around the detailed responses to those recommendations made by the Auditor-General. Overall, the Auditor-General’s comments were that there has been a lot of improvement in the way things are done. I think there are some findings in there which obviously require a level of follow-up. I certainly expect my agency to take those findings very seriously and keep me updated on the implementation of that.

In terms of Mr Smyth’s specific motion, I personally think this is fairly non-contentious in that, on my reading of the Auditor-General’s report, JACS has agreed to exactly the request that Mr Smyth has made. So on that basis I have no qualms with supporting the motion in the sense that the commitment is already there to provide that information.

I think the question that does stand is whether the end of November is the relevant time frame. I did not gather from Mr Corbell’s comments whether that time frame is a specific issue or not. I am certainly open to that time frame being amended should that be unsuitable. Given that JACS has agreed to provide this information, I do not see any reason not to support the motion.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.24), in reply: It is curious the approach of both the ministers that now that it has been brought to their attention by the Auditor-General they will do something 12 months from now. If Mr Rattenbury thinks that that is acceptable, good luck to him, because a lot can happen in 12 months. Recall that in 2009 when the plan was dropped they have had four years in which to comply with the law. I think this curious, perhaps, juxtaposition of the Attorney-General saying, “Non-compliance with the law has been brought to my attention, but I’ll let it go on for another 12 months” is most unfortunate.

To say that the department has now agreed to comply with the law and will do it 12 months from now is not to honour the act. It is not to enforce the act and it is not to enforce the resourcing of chapter 6 in strategic management bushfire plan 2 which said that it will be done over the life of this plan. It is unfortunate that the minister for emergency services is going to take that approach. He has these documents. He has been told by his officers what is required. He knows what that requirement is. My understanding is that it was not just for the Rural Fire Service. It was for the Ambulance Service and the SES, as well as the fire and rescue service. If the minister has had something brought to his attention—this is where ministerial responsibility kicks in—and he does not act on it and something untoward happens, it will be on that minister’s head.

Remember, this is the minister that wanted, for instance, to get rid of the fire management unit. It was almost done, and I give the Greens credit for their support when I moved the motion to save the fire management unit. That unit is working incredibly well. It had the support of everyone from the Volunteer Brigades Association through to the comms council. Everyone agreed, except for this minister. His judgement was flawed then and his response today is flawed. He has a requirement to fulfil the law and to ensure that his agencies fulfil the law. He has had a number of documents over a number of years now that tell him what is required, but he has suppressed those documents. He refuses now to comply and is being aided and abetted by you, Mr Rattenbury.

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