FIRE AND RESCUE NSW FUNDING
The Hon. STEVE WHAN: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Will the Minister guarantee that there will not be an increase in fire response times following the Government’s decision to cut $64 million in funding from Fire and Rescue NSW?
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I refer the member—
The Hon. Lynda Voltz: It is about the budget.
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I know. But I refer the member to the ongoing savings strategy. I have indicated to the member, as I have to other members, that as aspects of the matter are currently subject to discussion and presentation before the Industrial Relations Commission I will not be going into the details.
The Hon. Steve Whan: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. The question was specifically about a government budget decision not about the Industrial Relations Commission’s consideration of things that might flow from that later on. The question was about a government decision and the Minister can answer that question perfectly well without having to hide in coward’s castle and refer to matters concerning the Industrial Relations Commission.
The PRESIDENT: Order! There is no point of order.
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: As I said, in relation to the position that the Government takes with regard to savings strategies across government, we will stick to that savings strategy and we will continue to work with the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW. I have spoken personally to members of the Fire Brigades Employees Union and I will continue to engage with them to ensure that, as they have suggested, they find an alternative savings strategy. They should do that in consultation with the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW. It is about indicating to those involved in these essential services that they use their expertise and look at what they can manage because they are the ones who deliver the services to the people of New South Wales. We trust them in the delivery of those services but, at the same time, as a whole community we realise that we cannot continue to live beyond our means and we all need to share the program of making savings.
People voted for change at the last election. The Opposition’s interpretation of change is change that applies to them; our view is that change applies to all of us—that we must all change our approach to government, we must all change our approach to expenditure and we must all ensure that we are putting in place a changed culture within this State that will ensure that we are viable as a State for the future and that we can create an environment whereby jobs come to this State. Governments do not create jobs; private enterprise creates jobs. For us to show private enterprise that we are serious and want people to invest here we have to show leadership ourselves. We need to make decisions that go right across government, that affect all of us, to ensure that at the end of the day we can make a joint decision in relation to where we can—
The Hon. Steve Whan: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. I asked the Minister a specific question about increases in response times following a budget decision—
The PRESIDENT: Order! I have the gist of the member’s point of order. The member will resume his seat. The Minister is being generally relevant.
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER: I again make the point that operational decisions are made by the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and, unlike those opposite, we trust in the decisions made by the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW.