Select Committee on Emergency Services Reform

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS ( 16:38 ): I rise briefly to support the noting of this report and echo the contribution of the chair of the committee, the Hon. Mr Brokenshire. I think the Hon. Mr Brokenshire has covered the essence of the report and the two recommendations very well. This whole saga has been a sad one. The Hon. Mr Brokenshire, and anybody else who has ever worked as a volunteer in the emergency services sector, would understand their commitment and understand, as the Hon. Mr Brokenshire said, the mistrust of government at the moment out there. 

We have seen what has been happening in Victoria. I have great friends in Victoria who have been involved with the CFA for many years. They are almost at their wits' end, because all they want to do is get on and fight fires, or do the road accident work or do the assistance with floods, that they also do, and they are completely sick of some of the things that have been happening in their sector. I am very grateful that the Hon. Mr Brokenshire has brought to our attention the comments by the CFSVA president, Mr Andy Wood, in that CFS Volunteer Yearbook 2016. It is interesting to note that that article was placed right below the article from the current minister, the Hon. Peter Malinauskas. I do highlight the fact that in that article Mr Andy Wood did say that the former Emergency Services Minister's sector reform process could, at best, be described a seriously flawed and at worst extremely dangerous. 

He is, of course, talking about the member for Light in another place, the Hon. Tony Piccolo, who, in many senses, has his heart in the right place about volunteers, but when it came to the pressure that was put on him by the United Firefighters Union he succumbed. He made a half-baked attempt at trying to do what we have seen happening in Victoria, and the fact that we have not had the full Victorian experience is a great thing because that is a debacle over there. 

I think everybody who supports the CFS, SES and other volunteer organisations that give of themselves to protect the community should be completely concerned about those comments and the fact that it did undermine the confidence that the volunteer sector has in the government. What was brought home to me when I was recently able to attend the opening of the new CFS station at Gawler River, where I grew up, was that sense that the volunteers there just want to get on with the job. The minister was there that day and Mr Piccolo was there that day and the leading officers of the CFS were all there. 

The current brigade volunteers—and, might I say, there were a number of people like me who were the original members of the brigade in 1978—just want that brigade and all the other brigades to be able to get on with what they do well and they should not have to be fighting the sort of political issues that were brought on their doorstep. I do commend the recommendations, which the Hon. Mr Brokenshire has highlighted, particularly about the complete difference in culture and motivation between, certainly, the paid firefighters and the volunteer firefighters. There can be, and is, great cooperation between both of them but let's not put any more wedges between them. However, we also need to recognise that there is a different culture, and also the recommendation that the CFS and SES volunteer charter be enshrined in legislation. 

In conclusion, I also want to indicate my great thanks to the committee secretary, Ms Leslie Guy, who is just around the corner from me here. She has to put up with my bellowing voice, which is probably a shame for her. Also, great thanks to Dr Trevor Bailey. I have had the privilege of being on at least two, and probably three, committees where Dr Bailey has been the research officer and I think the very quiet and unassuming way in which he gets on and does the reports and reads the mood and direction of the committee is a talent that he has and we were very grateful for his efforts in this work. With those remarks, I commend the motion to the council. 

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens .

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