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Shake-up of Victorian emergency services

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 10 December, 2012 - 7:49 AM
Emergency Services

The Baillieu government has announced the biggest shake-up of emergency services in 30 years, pulling all of the services together in one crisis-management body to be headed by an Emergency Management Commissioner.

Speaking with Neil Mitchell, Deputy Premier and Emergency Services Minister Peter Ryan said while legislative holes relating to the leadership in a disaster – made apparent under former Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon’s tenure during Black Saturday – had since been closed, there was still further progress needing to be made.

"The weakness still is in my opinion that what we've had, and what we've amended, is only applicable to fire and flood," he said.

"What we are now going to have under this arrangement is one person who, no matter the nature of the disaster, one person will have the ultimate responsibility for the coordination of how we deal with it." 

Mr Ryan cited the 1969 Violet Town rail disaster, the 1970 West Gate Bridge collapse, the 1991 Coode Island explosion, and the 1998 Longford has explosion, as types of disasters which need a central body to manage an emergency response.

"Those things don't fit in with the normal regime of how you manage these things with fire or flood, " he said.

"What we are now going to have under this arrangement is one person who, no matter the nature of the disaster, one person will have the ultimate responsibility for the coordination of how we deal with it."

Mr Ryan said the only exceptions to Emergency Management Victoria's involvement in a crisis would be terrorism or a criminal act, in which Victoria Police will remain in control.

Responding to criticisms from the United Firefighters Union that the new plan could endanger lives, Mr Ryan said the union’s view was ‘nonsense’.

"Unfortunately they refused to participate in the process whereby all of this has taken place over the last 12 months," he said.

"They haven't seen the paper, they're out there bagging it, and I think that's most unfortunate."

LISTEN: Emergency Services Minister Peter Ryan speaks with Neil Mitchell:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • The public circus won't like it as it means the buck stops somewhere.

    Solomon's Sword Monday 10 December, 2012 - 11:32 PM

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