ACT News


New ESA chief faces 'comprehensive list' of problems

The ACT's incoming emergency services commissioner has been welcomed by paramedics and firefighters, but warned that he faces a ''comprehensive list'' of workplace problems needing urgent attention.

NSW Rural Fire Service Assistant Commissioner Dominic Lane was named ACT emergency services commissioner on Monday.

Mr Lane, who started his RFS career as a volunteer and worked through the ranks, will replace Commissioner Mark Crosweller, who has resigned to become director-general of Emergency Management Australia.

His appointment follows a stoush between the government and the firefighters' union over the appointment of State Emergency Service Chief Officer Tony Graham as acting commissioner during the search for Mr Crosweller's replacement.

The United Firefighters Union pointed to scathing criticism of Mr Graham's actions in the 2003 Canberra bushfires and said its members held deep concerns with the appointment, particularly during the 10th anniversary of the disaster.

But Mr Graham will no longer be in the role on the anniversary date, with Mr Lane starting four days before that date on January 14.


Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell said the speed with which the appointment had been made was ''not at all'' due to the criticisms of Mr Graham.

''It was always a priority for me to appoint a new ESA commissioner as soon as possible,'' he said. ''I'm very pleased with the calibre of Mr Lane as the successful candidate.''

Mr Graham will begin acting in the role when Mr Crosweller steps down on Christmas Day.

The UFU and the Transport Workers Union, which represents ambulance officers, welcomed the appointment on Monday.

But TWU official Ben Sweaney said the new commissioner must move quickly to fix workforce issues contributing to rock-bottom morale in the ACT Ambulance Service.

''We certainly want to get started on a review into the ACT Ambulance Service, and are keen to sit down with the new commissioner,'' he said.

UFU ACT branch secretary David Livingstone said fixing new arrangements around the control of fire grounds should be a priority. New procedures mean the commissioner must, in some circumstances, decide whether volunteers or paid firefighters take the lead role in fighting a fire.

''We want to see a commissioner who is able to put internal politics aside and make the right decisions around command and control arrangements,'' Mr Livingstone said.

Mr Corbell said that as assistant commissioner of the NSW RFS, Mr Lane was responsible for management of all RFS infrastructure, fleet, communication and information technology as well as the management of 490 salaried staff.