Letter To Chairman Of Fire Service Commission

  • Jack Elder
Civil Defence

copy of letter sent to the Chairman of the Fire Service Commission, Roger Estall, tonight:

Dear Mr Estall
In my letters to you of 25 and 29 March I gave formal directions requesting from you:

Confirmation of a detailed programme of reform to meet the Government's expectations and how the programme would be managed and effected; and

Evidence that all relationship issues between the Commission and the Chief Executive had been properly resolved, so that the Commission was able to progress that programme of reform.

Both those directions required a response by 31 March.

Although you were able to provide us with certain material by that date, it was not until 6 April, and following my letter to you of 1 April, that you were able to address the matters that had been raised by both directions.

On the basis of legal and official advice Ministers have concluded that the material provided to us goes just far enough to address the very serious difficulties that occasioned my letters to you. That response does itself identify considerable further work that will be required to meet our expectations. We will therefore be establishing ongoing arrangements with you as to your plans, the timeline for their implementation and the monitoring of your meeting the targets outlined in your programme.

In all of this we have taken particular note of the support that is being expressed for this programme by the Chief Executive and senior management.

On that basis we do not intend to recommend to the Governor-General that he exercise the removal power provided by section 8 of the Fire Service Act 1975.

It will come as no surprise to you, however, that the Government will continue to monitor the Commission and the Fire Service most closely. If there is any recurrence of the circumstances that gave rise to the formal directions I issued to you, Ministers would be driven to the conclusion that there had in fact been no substantial resolution of the problems that we identified. We would then forthwith recommend to the Governor-General exercise of the section 8 removal power.

Given the significance of there continuing to be a functioning working relationship between the Commission and senior management, I think it would be appropriate that you draw the particular attention of senior management to the remarks contained in this letter. Whilst the Commission continues to be responsible for the maintenance of a functioning relationship with its senior management, the Chief Executive and the National Commander should be aware that the Government is placing considerable significance on their continuing support for the programme you have outlined.

In all the circumstances, you will understand why I have decided that this letter should be made public and that has occurred this evening contemporaneously with the release of the attached press statement.

Yours sincerely

Hon Jack Elder