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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 13 August 2015) . . Page.. 2910 ..

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.31): For those who were not at the estimates hearings, one of the highlights was when we found out that Snowy Hydro SouthCare has a new helicopter; it is getting an Agusta 139. Toll will be the operator as from about 2017. It is a $10 million aircraft. It is a big aircraft; it can carry more equipment and has greater capacity. The only thing wrong is that the helicopter does not fit in the hangar at the base at Hume. That is right. We have bought a helicopter that does not fit. In the adverse conditions that Canberra sometimes has—we all saw the snow yesterday, and occasionally the hail—plus the high quality precision that goes into making helicopters these days, they need to be inside when they get serviced.

It was funny; we asked the chief officer if this was true and he said, “Well, look, on the specs there is a 25-millimetre gap so they could wheel it in. All things being perfect, you could get it in and get it out.” But we all know it is like bumping the box trailer up the garage or whatever; these things are not the same. As the chief officer goes, “If you get a heavy pilot in the front and the tail rotor dips upwards”—think about that, it dips upwards because it does come in on the undercarriage—“we would prefer not to have the occasion of the tail rotor striking the top of the hangar. I am sure the pilot would prefer not to have the tail rotor strike the top of the hangar too.” We asked, “So what will you do?” They said modifications were on foot. “How much would they cost?” They did not know.

We have gone out and signed a contract for a new helicopter that does not fit. Obviously what we have not taken into account when we were doing the costing on the helicopter is what the cost of the modifications to the hangar would be. You have to wonder how we get into these positions. It will be hilarious to see what has to be changed. It would be funny if it did not come on top of the Jerrabomberra shed where you could not open the doors to let the volunteers out if the trucks were inside. That, of course, was almost as bad as the Rivers shed, where it was very hard to use the cubicles and there were gaps in the walls where rodents and other creatures got in.

The tradition of poor management of these works continues, and you have to question why. The answer is lack of leadership. In this case it is the lack of leadership from this minister in regard to the emergency services. The minister had a chance to stand up for women in emergency services. I think she might be the minister for women’s issues as well. Let us face it: over the years the record has not been the best. Until quite recently they have been closed shops for women to participate in. But we recently had a vacancy in the role of Chief Officer of the State Emergency Services of the ACT. My understanding is that the deputy chief officer is a very capable female.

I do not particularly care whether you are male or female in regard to this, but we have a very qualified, very good and much respected member of the service who, on the retirement of her boss, was probably sitting there thinking, “I’ll have a shot at this.” We talk about equality and gender equity. “When that’s advertised, I reckon I’ll have a go.” Imagine how that officer and the female officers below her and the female volunteers in that service felt. I can tell you, members. I had many emails from the male members of the SES saying they were outraged by the fact that this officer never got a go.

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