Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (16:30): [by video link] When the 2019-20 bushfires were raging in my electorate on the New South Wales South Coast it truly was an extraordinary time. The selfless efforts of our rural fire service volunteers and all our emergency services volunteers and workers were simply outstanding and something I know we are all incredibly proud of.
The bushfires raged for months, lives were tragically lost and people were injured. Homes and businesses were gutted, roads and highways cut off and loved ones separated. I remember that time clearly, a highway cut off, the feeling of desperation and despair as everyone banded together.
The immediate need for a joint emergency services precinct was again highlighted during those catastrophic events of the 2019-20 Black Summer fires. In a small, much-loved community hall, the Moruya RSL Hall, you would find the makeshift Eurobodalla emergency operations centre, the place where emergency services would meet to coordinate the emergency response. Complete with Bunnings fold-up tables and extension power leads, the vital Moruya RFS incident management centre was in a different location, making communications and an integrated response more difficult.
The Eurobodalla council and emergency services agencies have been advocating for more than eight years for a modern co-located facility for emergency services agencies and their operations to be based in Moruya. It's worth noting here that there have been previous reviews of emergency operation centres across New South Wales and on each occasion the conclusion has been that a purpose made emergency services precinct is required in Moruya.
The Eurobodalla, more specifically Moruya, remains without a satisfactory emergency operations centre. New South Wales RFS, New South Wales Ambulance and New South Wales fire and rescue facilities each have standalone facilities in Moruya that are no longer fit for purpose and are located on flood prone land. New South Wales SES is currently located within council's Moruya depot and will need to relocate in the future.
It's a huge problem. That's why I'm calling on the federal government to help fund a new, dedicated Emergency Operations Centre at Moruya as part of a regional co-located emergency services precinct.
Today I have launched a petition on my website asking people to join the fight for the emergency operations centre to be built. I know that Eurobodalla council is working in collaboration with the following state agencies in the development of the regional co-located emergency services precinct: New South Wales RFS, state planning office, regional planning office, local planning office, Moruya station, the incident management centre, the New South Wales SES, Moruya station training facilities and office, New South Wales Ambulance, Moruya station and office, the existing Eurobodalla emergency operations centre, local emergency management centres, agencies and non-government organisations. The precinct aims to house these stakeholders though the central emergency operations centre and training facility, providing a centre of excellence for emergency management.
The new emergency operations centre and emergency precinct is needed urgently. As soon as government funding is made available an agreed service provider can be engaged to commence delivery of the project. All emergency services agencies and councils support this project.
It's worth noting that 95 per cent of Eurobodalla citizens placed emergency services as the No. 1 issue for
government to address. This proposal meets that need. Co-location of key emergency service agencies in hightech, fit-for-purpose facilities will ensure supporting a contemporary future emergency response. Combined with the new Eurobodalla hospital and the existing Moruya TAFE, this precinct will also create a central employment hub, aligned with the proposed Moruya bypass. It will also boost local jobs.
The federal government has a $4 billion emergency disaster-mitigation fund for this very purpose. The fund has earned the government over $700 million in interest, with only $50 million spent. Now is the time for the federal government to release those funds to help build the new emergency operations centre and precinct at Moruya.