Page 3647 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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far, TAMS has contributed a total of 47 staff members in two separate deployments as part of the wider ACT strike force team organised by the ESA to assist with the fires. The first deployment of 23 staff left on Thursday, 17 October; they returned late yesterday. The second deployment left yesterday and is due to return late Friday night.

The staff who have gone have been deployed to the Blue Mountains complex of fires and have been active in property protection activities, as well as managing back-burning operations. The New South Wales authorities specifically requested our staff as we are able to offer well-trained firefighters who are experienced in mountain environments. Whilst most staff are attached to one of five TAMS-based RFS heavy tankers, some staff have been utilised in the local command centre. And one individual was specifically requested by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service for her skills in aerial reconnaissance, as part of a helicopter team flying over the fire ground for the purpose of strategic and advanced planning.

Whilst staff are there, they are working 12-hour shifts on a daily basis. From all the reports I have received, they have undertaken their duties with professionalism and distinction. Those staff who have returned have commented on the scenes of destruction they have witnessed, but also on the gratitude and goodwill with which they were received by their New South Wales colleagues and local residents.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to share this with the Assembly, to publicly thank those people who have gone north to assist with our neighbours in New South Wales. It is hard work for them. They do leave behind their families, and there is always that sense of trepidation, or at least apprehension, for those families who are left behind, because it is a dangerous environment. As well trained as our staff are, we all know that at times tragedy can occur.

I simply wanted to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge the contribution of those who have headed north, to thank them for their efforts and to let them know that our thoughts are with them and their families—as well as with the many people in New South Wales who are really struggling at this time. The ACT is pleased to be able to make the contribution that we can to, hopefully, assist in bringing those fires under control as soon as possible.

Hospitality industry

MS BERRY (Ginninderra) (5.45): I rise tonight to congratulate hospitality workers, including catering and restaurant employees, who had their penalty rates yet again protected following a decision of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Earlier this month, the restaurant and catering association, RCA, put a claim in to the Fair Work Ombudsman that would lead to a reduction of penalty rates for employees working past 10 pm as well as effectively removing weekend penalty rates by providing for penalty rates being paid on the sixth and seventh shifts rather than on weekends.

As a former hospitality worker, I know how important penalty rates are, particularly to young people in our community, in order to make ends meet. Thankfully, the

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