State Emergency Service Computer Funding



About this Item
SpeakersKerr Mr Malcolm; Debus Mr Bob
BusinessQuestions Without Notice

STATE EMERGENCY SERVICE COMPUTER FUNDING

Mr KERR: My question is addressed to the Minister for Emergency Services. Given the massive administrative problems experienced during the recent hailstorm in Sydney, why has the Minister failed to deliver in the budget on his promise to the State Emergency Service to spend $750,000 for new computers to help 150 units cope with disasters?

Mr DEBUS: I am pleased that the honourable member for Cronulla, who paid the local State Emergency Service [SES] workers a great tribute for their work in the clean-up after the storm in his part of the world, has paid so much attention to the Government’s emergency services policy. It certainly warrants more attention than the Coalition’s emergency services policy which, for the last election, consisted of two pages. One line in it related to the SES. It was written by the honourable member for Coffs Harbour, who says that he will ensure that the SES continues to receive funding to help in flood plain work where necessary and to provide support to other community services. That is the Coalition policy on the SES. As far as I am aware, the Coalition does not have any more.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Coffs Harbour to order.

Mr DEBUS: A 12-page emergency services policy was presented by the Carr Government before the last election in which it promised that $1.4 billion would be spent on New South Wales emergency services over the next four years. Over the past four years we have provided $50 million to the SES. That is a 47 per cent increase on what the Coalition provided in the previous four years. We promise to do even better over the next four years. We promise to spend an extra $4.3 million on the SES. As part of that commitment we shall provide $2.3 million to the SES for a range of equipment: a new radio communications system for the Far West, a number of mobile sandbagging machines, a statewide call-out system and new computers for 150 SES units.

Funding will also be provided for improved flood safety advice throughout the river valleys in New South Wales. They are balanced and affordable commitments that we shall meet over the next four years. The decision has been taken to give priority in the coming financial year to the funding of new mobile sandbagging machines for SES units in flood-prone areas such as Grafton, Narrabri, Forbes, Moree and Murwillumbah, the provision of $1.5 million in equipment such as new flood rescue boats and the provision of $250,000 for a single statewide call-out system for the SES. Over the next three years we will honour our commitment to provide $750,000 for new computers for 150 SES units around the State.

After that time every SES unit will therefore have the capacity to run a computer link to its divisional headquarters. Not only did the Opposition not have a plan for the SES before the election, it still does not have one. The only comments I have heard about the SES from the Opposition in recent
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times have been criticisms. The Government is very proud to be able to provide support and resources to the organisation and to recognise the valuable role our volunteers play in emergency relief in this State. It is a great pity that that support is not more bipartisan.