Monday, 26 November 2018
Fire and Emergency Personnel
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Australia's fire and emergency (F&E) personnel have a long and proud record of serving overseas, assisting local efforts during times of need,
(ii) this service has included 17 deployments over the course of 20 years—most recently, a contingent of 140 service men and women who fought deadly fires in California in September this year,
(iii) currently, within Australia's honours system, there are specific honours for police, military personnel and humanitarian groups that provide emergency assistance overseas, but not one specifically designated for F&E personnel,
(iv) this has had the effect of forcing F&E personnel to apply for recognition for their service under the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal (HOSM)—an honour intended for humanitarian groups, and
(v) F&E personnel are entitled to have their service recognised with a medal struck especially for them; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to create a new Fire and Emergency Service Overseas Medal to recognise F&E personnel who serve overseas during times of crisis.
Honourable senators interjecting—
I seek your assistance, Madam Deputy President. We've had quite a ruckus of an afternoon. Now there is interchange across the chamber. Senators are telling other senators to simply 'cheer up' in response to bullying allegations. I'd just like to say—
Senator Hanson-Young, please resume your seat. There are only a couple of motions left.
Senator O'Neill interjecting—
Government senators interjecting—
Senator O'Neill and senators on my right. Senators have the right to be heard in silence. There are only a few more motions left.
The government recognises the service of Australian fire and emergency management personnel who deploy overseas, who currently can be considered for the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal. The creation of a new award in the Australian honours system or significant changes to existing awards requires a strong case that national recognition is appropriate and that existing awards don't suffice. Australian honours are created by Her Majesty the Queen, and proposals for new awards generally require the support of the chief officers of the relevant organisations, relevant state and territory ministers and then the Prime Minister. The government is advising advocates for the new medal that they should gain the support of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council and other stakeholders, which, if forthcoming, will be properly considered. Such awards are not the gift of the Senate although the government will note individual senators' views.
Question agreed to.