Claims of TFS staff short­age

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS -

Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor


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.”

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