Page 407 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 20 February 2018

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MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Steel for his interest in Canberrans’ safety right across the ACT. The ACT of course has a regional approach to bushfire support and response. This means that we are pleased to assist across the border when and where we can. These opportunities recognise our well-trained and resourced rural fire service volunteers and our parks and conservation officers.

The ACT Emergency Services Agency and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service have a memorandum of understanding that promotes and supports cross-border assistance. Under the MOU, 115 ACT RFS volunteers and staff and 18 parks and conservation personnel were deployed to New South Wales to help manage three separate fires between 19 January and 4 February this year. This included deploying to two fires at Nerriga Road, Braidwood, to Long Gully Road, Barnaby, and to Wollemi national park in Singleton.

A senior ACTRFS manager also joined the New South Wales RFS state strategic planning unit which determined the distribution of state-wide resources during the height of the bushfire season. This provided a valuable networking and learning experience. On behalf of the ACT government and this Assembly I would like to extend my thanks to the ACT personnel for their commitment to protecting the ACT and New South Wales from the threat of bushfires.

MR STEEL: Minister, how does the ACT Emergency Services Agency ensure that the ACT has enough firefighting resources available while also assisting New South Wales?

MR GENTLEMAN: It is a very important question so that the Canberra community can feel safe. The provision of assistance to interstate agencies is provided after careful consideration of predicted fire weather for the ACT, regional fire activity, and the availability of resources for the requested deployment period. Prior to agreeing to any deployments, we ensure that the ACT is adequately resourced should a local emergency incident occur while we are providing assistance in another jurisdiction.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, how has our firefighting capability benefited from assisting other jurisdictions?

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Mr Pettersson for his supplementary question. The ACT regularly provides assistance to other jurisdictions in times of emergency, whether close to home in New South Wales or as far away as last year’s deployments to Canada to assist in fighting forest and wild fires.

Providing this assistance recognises the great relationships between emergency services and provides excellent practical learning and development experience for ACT volunteers and staff. Deploying interstate and overseas gives our firefighters experience in different environments and develops their personal and professional abilities. These experienced firefighters are then able to pass on those skills and abilities to their colleagues here in the ACT.

I am pleased that the ACT Emergency Services Agency continues to maintain such strong, mutually beneficial relationships with other jurisdictions, particularly our close

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