Thursday 03 December, 2020

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services) (15:48): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services) (15:49): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading explanation and explanation of clauses inserted into Hansard without my reading them.

Leave granted.

The 2019-20 bushfire season was one of the worst seasons South Australia has ever endured. In January 2020, the state government commissioned the Independent Review into the 2019-20 Bushfire Season (the Review) to examine the state's response to the bushfires and make recommendations to improve future responses. The Review was led by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mr Mick Keelty AO.

Despite the consultation limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, 576 submissions were received, with over 100 targeted surveys and 60 video/teleconferences held. Mr Keelty and the project team delivered the report by the end of June 2020. This was the first report to be delivered nationally into the 2019-20 bushfire season.

The Review made 15 recommendations for improvements based on 68 individual findings. These improvements broadly fell under the following groupings:

  1. new trucks, support and equipment for volunteers;
  2. better protection for our critical assets;
  3. enhanced communications and technology;
  4. improved information before and during bushfires; and
  5. other governance and capability improvements.

The state government acted quickly, announcing a $97.5 million package to address the recommendations of the Review.

To align SAFECOM Board operations with accepted governance standards, the Review recommended that the state government consider amending the Fire and Emergency Services Act2005to enable the appointment of an independent chair to the SAFECOM Board. The Review also recommended the introduction of reporting requirements from the State Bushfire Coordination Committee.

The bill implements both recommendations and will improve emergency services governance and support capability improvements. The state government is committed to supporting South Australia's emergency services volunteers to protect lives and property. This bill forms part of our $97.5 million response to the Review, which will help to create a safer and more bushfire resilient South Australia.

I commend this bill to the house.


Part 1—Preliminary

1—Short title


3—Amendment provisions

These clauses are formal.

Part 2—Amendment of Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005

4—Amendment of section 3—Interpretation

This clause makes an amendment consequential to the changes to section 11 of the principal Act to ensure that the definition of appointed member includes a member appointed under new paragraph (a) of section 11(1).

5—Amendment of section 11—Constitution of Board

The amendment to clause 11 provides for the appointment of a member who is not an officer, member or employee of an emergency services organisation by the Governor to be the presiding member.

6—Amendment of section 14—Proceedings

This clause deletes from section 14(1) of the principal Act the requirement that, in the absence of the presiding member, the person appointed to preside must be an ex officio member of the Board.

7—Amendment of section 71E—Annual reports

This clause deletes the reference to SACFS and substitutes it with a reference to Minister. It also makes a related amendment requiring the Minister to ensure copies of the report provided to the Minister are laid before both Houses of Parliament.

8—Amendment of section 101—Annual reports

This clause makes a related amendment to the annual report provision as a result of the amendments proposed to section 71E of the principal Act to remove the requirement to provide for the annual report on the activities of the State Bushfire Coordination Committee and the bushfire management committees.

Debate adjourned on motion of Mr Odenwalder.