Claims of TFS staff shortage
TASMANIA Fire Service is short of staff and the recommendations of bushfire reports have not been implemented, State Parliament was told yesterday.
Labor said TFS did not have enough staff to run incident management teams during recent fires at Lachlan and Scamander and had to bring in staff from other agencies.
Police, Fire and Emergency Management Minister Mark Shelton read from a statement about the Government’s efforts and criticised the performance of Labor and the Greens when in power six years ago.
Amid calls from the Opposition for Mr Shelton to answer the question — and two requests from Speaker Sue Hickey for him to come to the point — he was asked to sit down.
“You’ve had five minutes. Thank you, Minister,” Ms Hickey said.
Labor asked the same question of Premier Will Hodgman, who defended the Government’s performance.
“What we’re doing as a government is giving our full support to Tasmania’s firefighting ability,” he said.
Mr Hodgman said Labor was undermining community confidence in the fire service and decisions on staffing were matters for the chief fire officer. TFS acting deputy chief Shane Batt later said Labor’s claims were incorrect.
“Incident management teams are established for large complex fires, which are usually across multiple tenures,” he said. “They are staffed not only from TFS, but also from PWS and STT, due to their crosstenure nature.
“An incident management team was established at Cambridge for the recent fires. This had control of numerous fires burning in the Central Highlands and Derwent Valley.”
Labor Leader Rebecca White said there were concerns the state was not prepared for the bushfire season.
“There is a concern across the Tasmanian Fire Service, about how prepared this government is for the upcoming season, the fact that they haven’t implemented a number of recommendations from reviews,” she said.
“We’ve got an inexperienced minister who simply does not seem to be across the details of what’s going on in his own agency.”