Bills: Fire and Emergency Services (Volunteer Charters) Amendment Bill

Wednesday July 31, 2019

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (11:19): I would like to thank all members for their contribution to the bill. I think it is also important to recognise the genesis of this. People have talked about time and, without getting into it, it is good that these things finally do pass in a legislative way. Recognition needs to be given to previous members, including the previous member for Morphett, Duncan McFetridge, as well as former MLC the Hon. Robert Brokenshire, who unsuccessfully tried to have this bill passed in a previous parliament.

Of course, moving forward to today, the Hon. Tammy Franks, who is here with us today, really does need to be commended for keeping this issue alive and finally getting it to a point where, hopefully after this, we will pass the amendment bill. It is also important to realise the intent of the charter, and I will read a little bit from it as my closing contribution on this. When you look at it, you might scratch your head and wonder why it has taken so long. The intent of the charter is to ensure:

consultation occurs with Volunteers about all matters that might reasonably be expected to affect them

consideration of their views when approving or adopting new practices or policies

consideration of their views when reviewing current practices or policies

recognition that there is a mutual obligation and practical partnership based on respect between the parties

that a fair, reasonable and non discriminatory approach is taken by all, and

the safety of the South Australian community [is paramount].

With that, I would like to commend the bill to the house as well as thank our local SES and CFS volunteers. Over the past six or seven years, I have either been campaigning or involved in politics. Simon, in Mount Gambier, who is our SES coordinator, and Bob, who is my go-to in the CFS—I do not profess to have their correct titles in front of me, so I will not mention them because they do get quite particular about it—do a marvellous job. Looking at the complex down in Mount Gambier, on Jubilee Highway, and talking about the number of call-outs and how their family and their work pretty much gets put on hold whenever there is an emergency, I think it is a true credit to all our volunteers.

Of course, when you take on a coordinator or leadership role, that work is amplified. I really want to thank Simon and Bob on behalf of my community for the work that they do. They really put themselves at the front line when, unfortunately, others are having perhaps the worst day of their life, whether that is because of a tree, an accident or something like that. Our volunteers go above and beyond. This is a small way of putting this charter into legislation, and I thank all the people who have made a contribution to this, in particular, the Hon. Tammy Franks.