The following question without notice was asked by the Member for Wagin Terry Waldron and answered by Regional Development Minister Terry Redman in Parliament yesterday:
Mr T. WALDRON to the Minister for Regional Development:
Can the minister please provide some details about the emergency service volunteer fuel card scheme, which was announced in Boddington in the Wagin electorate yesterday?
Mr T. REDMAN replied:
Yesterday was a fantastic day for volunteers in regional Western Australia and periurban areas around the city, because in Boddington the Minister for Emergency Services announced the volunteer fuel card, which was an election commitment going into the 2013 election. It was hugely appropriate to use Boddington as a launching place for that, given the recent very, very tragic fires we had both in Boddington and Northcliffe. Some 100 volunteers attended that from all around the state. There was huge support for coming together at a time of need for a particular region to support putting out a fire and hopefully reducing the level of risk.
The program is funded by $7.4 million of royalties for regions funding and $228 000 from the consolidated account for those emergency services groups around the state that have volunteers who do a huge amount to help the state government support regional communities and periurban areas to ensure we have an emergency service response. If we did not have those volunteers, there would be a huge cost to the taxpayer and the government. The groups included in the program are the bush fire brigades, volunteer fire and rescue services, volunteer fire services, State Emergency Service, volunteer emergency services, volunteer marine rescue and also St John Ambulance. The program will be very similar to the Country Age Pension Fuel Card, with the officer in charge of the group or brigade being responsible for the fuel card. It will support the very great volunteer work done by the people who are part of those brigades. We know they put in a huge amount of effort and their own time, in some cases travelling huge distances, to support the volunteer effort, and it is something we simply could not do without. This measure is not designed to be any sort of compensation for their efforts; it is a recognition of the huge contribution that volunteers make, and I am really proud that this Liberal–National government is making a commitment to support those volunteers whom we simply cannot do without.