Queanbeyan Fire Station Incident

About this Item
SpeakersPavey The Hon Melinda; Deputy-President (The Hon Helen Westwood)
BusinessAdjournment, ADJ

Page: 25423

The Hon. MELINDA PAVEY [10.57 p.m.]: I raise an important issue to the Monaro electorate that also corresponds neatly with my shadow ministerial responsibility for emergency services. On Saturday 14 August I received a phone call from a Queanbeyan firefighter describing a shocking incident that occurred on the front lawn of the Queanbeyan fire station on Friday 13 August. At the outset, I make the point that I have not taken sides on this issue and I understand that many conflicting accounts of the incident have been reported. As the shadow Minister, I am merely a conduit for the information that I have received, and I believe that it is important to put that information on the public record.
    It reveals a dysfunctional situation in the electorate of the Minister for Emergency Services. I support the thousands of men and women involved in the New South Wales Fire Brigades, who work tirelessly on behalf of our community to keep us all safe from fire and misadventure. I also make this speech in the shadow that falls over the New South Wales Fire Brigades. That shadow includes an imminent Independent Commission Against Corruption report that will provide details about extensive problems within New South Wales Fire Brigades and a court case involving bullying and harassment which occurred many years ago but which is still having repercussions for many people.
      The shameful incident that occurred on 13 August has generated great concern in the local community. Two firefighters engaged in a brawl on the lawn outside the fire station. Two police vehicles were sent from the streets of Queanbeyan to attend the incident in response to a 000 call. The police officers concerned should have been doing what one would expect of them on a Friday night. I believe that this incident is the result of a lack of leadership at both the local and ministerial levels. It has been brought to my attention that one of the station's fire trucks is out of service for about 90 per cent of the time and that that triggered the brawl. The people who have spoken to me, both on and off the record, have told me about their fear and a culture of bullying and harassment that has not been resolved. The major problem is that this has gone on under the nose of the local member, the Hon. Steve Whan, who is also the Minister.

      The Hon. Greg Donnelly: Point of order: I take this point of order with great reluctance. The member is making a reflection on a member of another House. The member knows that that is not something that ought to be done. I think she has done it twice already in her speech. I can continue to talk and interrupt, if she wishes, for another minute and 12 seconds—

      The Hon. MELINDA PAVEY: If you would like to cover up for the Minister, go ahead.

      The Hon. Greg Donnelly: No, you ought to participate in accordance with the standing orders in this style of debate. If you choose not to, I will take a point of order.

      The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. Helen Westwood): Order! A member can make imputations against another member only by way of substantive motion.

      The Hon. MELINDA PAVEY: In any case, the firefighters that have come to me and asked me to draw this matter to the public's attention have said that this has gone on since 2002. One of those firefighters stood beside me at a media conference outside the Queanbeyan fire station. Frank Bresnik was brave enough, because he is no longer a firefighter—he gave up, he had had enough—and he stood and spoke with me on behalf of concerned members of the Queanbeyan Fire Brigade. They feel that they are being ignored and that they put their community at risk. They feel that they rely on the services of the ACT Fire Brigade to provide a second tanker to the Queanbeyan community. I think it is relevant to raise these issues. But now my time has been cut short by the Hon. Greg Donnelly taking a point of order and I will have to raise this issue at another time. [Time expired.]