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Putting the wheels back on emergency services

Grant Gillon MP Fri Sep 24 1999

Grant Gillon
MPThe Alliance will develop a new over-arching civil defence and emergency agency to co-ordinate all emergency services.

A new position of Minister of Emergency Services will be created.

The Alliance Emergency Services policy was launched this morning at Auckland Central fire station by Alliance leader Jim Anderton and spokesperson for emergency services and former fire fighter, MP Grant Gillon.

'Emergency services have been systematically undermined in this country for the last decade. Services have become fragmented in preparation for corporatisation. We reject this entirely. We want to see a co-ordinated and dynamic system in place that each New Zealander knows they can rely on. We want to put the wheels back on our emergency services.'

A new civil defence and emergency agency would take over the functions of the Fire Service Commission, for example, and set standards and audit performances as well as advising and allocating budgets.

'We will restore the number of fire fighters to the figure that existed prior to the 1995 referendum, and continue to endorse the international minimum of four trained fire fighters on each fire appliance.

'While we acknowledge the outstanding contribution made by volunteer fire fighters, it makes no sense to replace fully professional fire fighters with volunteers with less training. This practise will cease.

'Some corporate companies in New Zealand have avoided paying hundreds of million of dollars in fire service levies, while residential properties in New Zealand pay their fair share.

'The Alliance will introduce a fairer funding system, based not on insurance but on a calculation of the risk involved with a certain property. Properties with a higher risk will pay more. New Zealand home owners can expect to pay less than they currenty do for their fire levy.

'Adequate police levels will be established and maintained. Policing will be integrated into an overall strategy for emergency services.

'After the embarrassing fiasco of the government's attempts to introduce the INCIS computer system, the Alliance proposes a thorough review of the whole communications system, including the often overloaded 111 call.

'These measures will ensure that New Zealand communities once again have aeffective and publicly owned emergency services,' said Grant Gillon.

ENDS

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