Page 4041 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013
have the capability to respond on a significant scale in a very short period of time to deal with an emergency.
We have seen excellent work by the RFS with the launch of the Bushfire Awareness Week and we have seen excellent engagement by the ACT Ambulance Service in convening from around the country and around the world a recent conference of the Council of Ambulance Authorities, which provided valuable learnings on how to respond to mass casualty events, drawing on the experience of the Boston bombings.
The ESA has a strong and dedicated focus and capability. It is supported by a significant level of resourcing and investment in new equipment, facilities and training by the government. It is a capable, organised and well-prepared organisation and it is led by good operational leaders. My job as the minister is to make sure the operational leaders do their jobs, to make sure the commissioner does his job and to make sure all of our emergency personnel are appropriately supported when it comes to resourcing, equipment and facilities. I think I have set out very clearly today that all of those things are the case and that Mr Smyth’s motion is one of the silliest he has ever presented to this place.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.39): I rise to speak to this motion, recognising Mr Smyth’s ongoing enduring interest in matters emergency services related. I think it is fair to say it is something he often brings up in this chamber, and certainly I always enjoy these discussions because I think it is an area of considerable importance and one well worth discussing in this place. I have no problem with the information in Mr Smyth’s motion being made public, although perhaps the only place I would have any exception is the details about the investigations of complaints that may be ongoing, where some care obviously needs to be taken about revealing personal details about these matters or legal matters. But I am sure that would be a point of agreement as well.
The only concern I have with this motion is the very broad nature of the questions that are being framed. It has asked for a large amount of information going across the four branches of the ESA and for some detail of operational matters. I note that Mr Corbell has just provided quite a bit of information. I imagine Mr Smyth is not entirely satisfied with that and would want some further information, but I certainly feel some of the information requested is of a very broad nature. My view is that, in its current form, the motion is so broad that it would be at considerable cost to ESA time, time that is very valuable and time that clearly, with the impending arrival of bushfire season, is something we need to be thinking carefully about.
In thinking about this motion and the best way to respond to it, I reflected on the fact that the ESA commissioner, Mr Lane, will be appearing at annual reports hearings on Thursday, 14 November, just over two weeks from today. And I feel that, in light of that, the most appropriate approach to deal with a number of these questions, particularly in light of the information that Mr Corbell has provided today, will be for Mr Smyth to take up these questions at that annual report hearing.
I think that would be a very time-effective way to address the questions that have been asked. I think it would also enable Mr Smyth to get more specific information about