WA Labor commits to greater consultation on Emergency legislation.
A McGowan Labor Government will extend the submission period into the review of the Emergency Management Act 2005 to allay fears of volunteer groups who are concerned their autonomy will be threatened under proposed changes, Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Margaret Quirk said today. Ms Quirk said the Department of Fire and Emergency Services commenced a statutory review of the legislation, however some volunteer groups were concerned the review was being done by stealth. “Notification of the review commenced in mid-December last year and submissions are set to close on March 31, 2013,” Ms Quirk said.
“This has raised concerns about the lack of genuine consultation, with the review being conducted over Christmas and school holidays and at a time when many emergency volunteers are fully occupied with emergency work during bushfire and cyclone seasons. “This move is seen by many volunteers as an attempt by the Department to centrally control everything and place too much power in the hands of the Commissioner, such as being able to unilaterally sack a volunteer or even a whole unit or brigade.”
Ms Quirk said Western Australia’s 33,000 emergency volunteers were vital to the State’s emergency response and their goodwill was important. “WA Labor believes it is essential that our volunteers have the opportunity to fully participate in the process of review at every stage,” she said. “This is why WA Labor would extend the submission period and consult widely about any changes to the existing legislation.
“We would also consider appointing an independent person to conduct the review or even refer it to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for an update of the 2006 report of the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee. “Our volunteer groups should not have to feel anxious that their identity and autonomy will be threatened as a result of this review.”
Ms Quirk said if autonomous units were working well, there was no need to reinvent the wheel.