Page 4280 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 27 November 2013

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However, as the motion stands, I am not persuaded that a structural change is what is needed for the Emergency Services Agency. I think that these are secondary questions to the one that I think is really important, which is: are we getting the emergency services that we need?

Mr Smyth has certainly highlighted concerns he has in some areas. We have seen media reports. But I think it is fair to observe that most agencies have operational issues that do occur within their agencies. I do not think that fundamentally goes to the question of structure of an agency, and on that basis I will not be supporting the motion today.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (12.13), in reply: I thank members for their varied responses to this issue. I think you have only got to look at the response that Mr Rattenbury made to this motion, as opposed to what Mr Corbell said. Mr Rattenbury was quite reasonable about his approach. He is not going to support it. I hear that. But the problem for Mr Corbell, as Mr Wall so accurately pointed out, is that he just ignored the issue.

Mr Rattenbury said there are often operational issues within departments. Yes, that is true. But has he ever heard such a litany of issues as those running in the last year that I have been able to bring to this place and that are happening currently in the ESA? We have a minister who fails, on all counts, to address those issues or take any responsibility for those things.

As I pointed out from House of Reps Practice, this is the place where ministers are held to account, on behalf of the public, for their administration and running of their departments. You are the person, Mr Corbell, who is allegedly responsible in this place but it is almost delusional the way that you just avoid answering any of the tough questions.

The fact is that this morning the ABC called it a scathing report from the Fair Work Ombudsman on an issue that has gone on for four years. I cannot believe, as minister, you were not aware of this. It has gone on for four years, and it got so bad the union had to take you to the Fair Work Ombudsman because you could not come up with a solution. You are responsible, minister.

The minister makes my case. He said, “We took it out of the Emergency Services Authority so that we could make savings on HR and personnel.” That worked for you, did it not? You have got complaints to WorkSafe on bullying, and you have got a scathing report from the Fair Work Ombudsman that the new administration failed—and not just failed, it broke the law for almost four years. You make my case for me, thank you very much.

It is typical. Minister Corbell, instead of taking ministerial responsibility and saying, “Yes, there have been some issues, we are working towards it,” did not once say, “I have directed my officials to fix these things so that I can go back into the Assembly and say it is fixed.” Instead, he deludes himself by delivering, again as Mr Wall said quite accurately, what sounded more like a valedictory speech. I think Mr Corbell sees

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