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Bushfires - Availability of Remote Area Teams

13 November 2019

 

Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for POLICE, FIRE and EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, Mr SHELTON.

Tasmanians want to be assured that you are putting all resources and effort into keeping them as safe as possible. Can you tell us if a fire were to break out in a remote area tomorrow, how many TFS remote area team staff would be able to be mobilised?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. Fire is an important area. It is emotionally charged at the moment so we need to keep some respect in the debate to make sure that this issue is kept in perspective when it comes to Tasmanians What I have said in the past -

Dr Woodruff - Give him a hand, he needs it. Tell him what to say; he needs to know what to say.

Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, could you be more respectful, please.

Dr Woodruff - Well, look at what just happened, Madam Speaker. Messages.

Madam SPEAKER - Let us be a kind parliament.

Dr Woodruff - This is the time for ministerial scrutiny. Ministers should be able to manage their portfolios.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.

Mr SHELTON - I will come to the second part of answer in a moment.

The TFS has a remote firefighting capability and that has been reinstated, as I have said. A program of training has commenced to ensure that our remote teams have the appropriate training ready for the summer bushfire season, which I have already said a number of times. The Parks and Wildlife Service continue to train and maintain the largest remote area firefighting capability in the state. The Tasmania Fire Service is geared up for tanker-based firefighting and urban interface. Only 2 per cent of their work is in remote area firefighting, normally supported by the Parks and Wildlife Service. As I indicated, that program is ongoing. It will be in place by the beginning of the bushfire season.

Dr Woodruff - When is the bushfire season, minister?

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff.

Mr SHELTON - I have always said at the beginning of the summer bush fire season -

Dr WOODRUFF - Madam Speaker, this is deeply concerning. Point of order, standing order 45 on relevance. I asked one question: how many TFS remote area team staff can be deployed if required tomorrow?

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you. Minister, the question is fairly explicit.

Mr SHELTON - Madam Speaker, I have already answered the question -

Dr Woodruff - You have not.

Mr SHELTON - The start of the summer bushfire season is on 1 December.

To reiterate the previous answer: the incident management teams are routinely made up of multi-agency staff including from the Tasmania Fire Service, Parks and Wildlife Service and Sustainable Timbers Tasmania. As the Premier said it is a matter for the Chief Fire Officer in relation to staffing.

Dr Woodruff - No. How many are there?

Madam SPEAKER - Order.

Mr SHELTON - He has advised me that he is not aware of any issues with the staffing of incident management teams in relation to the fires several weeks ago.

Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order 45, Madam Speaker. Perhaps if the minister cannot answer this question he should sit down and give us the answer in the House tomorrow. It is important. This Government has been saying that there are 80 TFS remote area team staff and that they are ready. We believe that is not true. We believe none of them are ready. We need to know the answer.

Madam SPEAKER - My understanding is that the minister made it quite clear that they would be ready to go from 1 December.

Dr Woodruff - No, that is not true.

Madam SPEAKER - Is that true, minister? You can stand, please, and address it.

Mr SHELTON - I said 1 December.

Dr Woodruff - How many?

Mr SHELTON - I said they will be in place for 1 December.

Dr Woodruff - Tomorrow is zero?

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Dr Woodruff. You cannot keep doing this. I ask you to hear the answer in silence.

Mr SHELTON - Madam Speaker, just quickly to finish up, evidently the fires were responded to very well. I send my full support to all volunteers and career fire officers. They did a terrific job in keeping lives and property safe in the last fires.