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25 Feb 2015

Defence Reserves Support Council

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 17:30 ): I move:

That the council acknowledges the contribution of the Defence Reserves Support Council (SA), Air Force, Army and Navy Reservists and employers of reservists, and in particular:

1. Acknowledges the contribution of Dr Pamela Schulz OAM as the recently retired chair of the council;

2. Congratulates Dr Andrew Cannon AM as the new chair of the council;

3. Recognises the contribution of reservists in war and peace, locally, nationally and internationally, and including the Sampson Flat bushfire; and

4. Appreciates the support of the employers of reservists to facilitate their contribution.

This motion will also be moved by the member for Bragg in the other place and provides an opportunity not only to recognise reservists generally but also to highlight the number of other agencies, including police, who contribute to civilian emergencies

The Defence Reserves Support Council is comprised of a group of employers drawn from all sectors in the state who advise, direct and endorse strategies for engaging and supporting employers of reservists in South Australia. The council aims to ensure the availability of the reserve component of the Australian Defence Force by promoting the benefits of employing members of the reserve. It also adds to establish a flexible partnership with the community and employers so that they are encouraged to support those in the reserve.

The recently retired chair, Dr Pamela Schulz OAM, was appointed in 2009 and was the first female to be appointed chair of the South Australian committee of the Defence Reserves Support Council. She is a longstanding public servant who has devoted herself to community education and encouraging people to participate and act on issues that are relevant to their daily lives. These issues include parenting, vaccination of children, parliamentary engagement, justice and the rule of law.

Dr Schulz has presented workshops and seminars around the nation and, indeed, around the world, on her research into discourse analysis and its impact on community and public engagement. Her focus has always been on communication and community, and she continued this through her work as chair of the council.

The incoming Chair, Dr Andrew Cannon AM, is well respected and has a long judicial career which has recently included serving as Deputy Chief Magistrate. His judicial career has been combined with academic research into court systems and he has been instrumental in the introduction of many reforms to civil and criminal processes. He has a PhD from the University of Wollongong on court policy and is an Adjunct Professor at the Flinders Law School and also at Munster University in Germany. He is a guiding voice in international forums on the future of the legal system, and I have no doubt that the council will benefit from the experience he brings, coupled with his genuine interest in helping the community.

I would like now to speak briefly about the contribution of defence during the recent Sampson Flat bushfires in South Australia which included an important contribution by reservists. The RAAF airbase at Edinburgh responded to the emergency by providing logistics support to airborne firefighting efforts from 4 to 7 January. Two large air tankers, a Bird Dog aircraft and more than 10 aircrew and support staff were deployed to assist the South Australian Country Fire Service. The defence aid provided refuelling, air movements and water replenishment support to contracted firefighting aircraft from Victoria.

Mr Norman Kent, who managed the base support task, said that due to the efforts of a small but hardworking team of personnel, the aircraft were able to be sent straight back to work after arriving at the Edinburgh base. He also said that the rapid rate of aircraft operations was something out of the ordinary as, by the end of the day—which was effectively only a half day—there had been 10 aircraft movements with the air tankers averaging a turnaround time of just 25 minutes. To put this into perspective, he explained that this turnaround time was from when the aircraft took off from Edinburgh, dropped its water supplies onto the fire, came back, reloaded and returned to the fire ground again.

These aircraft had virtually just taken off when, 10 minutes later, they were landing again having already completed their task. To achieve such a short turnaround time was truly remarkable. Victorian Country Fire Authority Aviation Officer, Wayne Rigg, has revealed that the support provided by defence at such short notice was instrumental in supporting the South Australian community during the fires. He also commended the Edinburgh base staff who coordinated the resources and equipment so that once the air tankers had arrived they were immediately able to scale up their operations and get to work.

Over the four days that the air tankers were deployed, 320,000 litres of water was able to be provided for the fire retardant mixing plant. In addition, 14 refuels were conducted supplying more than 50,000 litres of fuel to the aircraft. These are exemplary efforts which deserve our acknowledgment and our thanks.

Australia’s defence force continually seeks the skills and expertise of reservists to help maintain its capability. Receiving the support of employers means reservists are available to undertake their duties when called for service. Late last year, five South Australian employers were recognised at the Employer Support Awards. The event recognised employers who have been particularly supportive of their reservist employees.

I would similarly like to acknowledge and thank those employers of reservists who have facilitated their contribution, for without the ongoing support of employers such as these it would not be possible for reservists to successfully synchronise their civilian and service roles. I commend the motion to the council.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.S.L . Dawkins.

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