Montacute CFS


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (15:12:54): I just asked the Minister for Emergency Services when the Montacute CFS' new fire station would be built and I wish to advise the house why that question is so important. I will do so through a time line. The first I became aware of the desperate need for a new Montacute CFS station to be built was in fact sometime in early 2009. When I was a Liberal candidate, the then member for Morialta, Lindsay Simmons, was in this place representing the people of Morialta, and the people of the Montacute CFS brought to my attention their sincere concerns in terms of both occ health and safety, fire safety and general management and the attractiveness of their existing station, which is completely inappropriate and unfit for purpose. They, in fact, were arguing for a new station to be built.

The then Labor government led by Mike Rann and emergency services minister, Michael Wright, promised in campaign literature distributed ahead of the 2010 election to build a new site. A flyer distributed throughout the electorate in 2010 by the Labor Party had a photograph of Lindsay Simmons appearing with one of the firefighters in uniform with a quote saying that the government 'has a new site leased and building begins this year', claiming that, in 2009, that had been fixed.

In August 2010, I was approached by the Montacute CFS, which had recently been advised that the Adelaide Hills Council were considering the appropriateness of the land and, as part of the usual process, had approached the SACFS Building Fire Safety Unit which had identified a number of issues. In August, the Hills council passed their concerns about the site to the DAC for their consideration.

On 5 October, I wrote to the Minister for Emergency Services seeking information on the project. On 12 October, I asked questions in estimates of then minister Wright and was informed by the chief officer of the time, Euan Ferguson, that issues were being addressed and a budget of $500,000 had been set aside. On 9 December, we held a meeting on site with SAFECOM staff, CFS staff, Adelaide Hills council staff, CFS volunteers, and a couple of other locals to discuss the suitability of the location and to try to nut out some of these issues. It is safe to say that no resolution was reached.

On 18 January 2011, a meeting was held at the Montacute CFS where it was found that land had been rented by the government for two years before permission had been granted. Issues with the report prepared by the Building Fire Safety Unit were addressed and referred back to the unit for comment. On 2 February 2011, I received a letter from Michael Wright, the then minister, advising that he had:

...been informed by the CFS Regional Commander 1 that the Building Fire Safety Unit (BFSU) conducted a bushfire risk assessment on the CFS site at the request of Adelaide Hills Council ... and the outcom e was unfavourable. The... Council has now provided comment to the Development Assessment Commission on the report. A meeting was held on 9 Decemb er... to discuss the issue and a committee has been formed to e valuate the BFSU report. The committee will consist of local and Headquarters representatives and will have its first meeting in mid January 2011 to a ddress the issues raised by the council. I trust that the above information is of assistance.

It was of assistance, sort of, but not really. In March it was clear that the project was stalled with no new report being promised. SAFECOM advised they did not have an issue with the site and that the intersection outside the site was their primary concern.

In June, we learned a new site near the current site of the station began being investigated by the CFS, never mind the fact that the government had already spent two years' worth of money on leasing this new land; that was out of the picture. We had a new site they were looking at. I asked then minister Foley, the then minister for emergency services, when it was going to be built and he said that he had no idea and he did not care. The second part might have been my intrusion on the Hansard. He certainly said he had no idea; that he did not care was the impression given.

In September, the planning towards the new site being used next to the current site began and I remember taking the then shadow minister for emergency services as he was prior to his current incarnation, the member for Morphett, to have a look. In 2012, negotiations were being held between landowners, council and the CFS. In January 2013, council was granted permission, landowners signed off on the contract and were only awaiting sign-off from the DAC.

In August 2013, full permission had been granted, detailed work was being finalised, and rumours were circulating in Montacute that, at the end of the year, construction would begin, but a lease still had not been signed and there was a concern that the lease was not going to be signed due to a repeat of what happened last time where permission was withdrawn.

In January 2014, the ALP's election policy document—I think we are on to a new minister for emergency services by this time, but perhaps not the current one—stated that, 'Eleven stations will be upgraded including Salisbury, Gawler River, Montacute and Stirling.' As of the last couple of weeks when we have spoken to the Montacute Country Fire Service, I can advise the parliament that nothing is happening. They still do not have a station. They do not have a sign of when they are going to get a station. They have been waiting six years and the government has said at two elections that they have been delivering this. It is time to deliver for this community.