Emergency Services Equipment

Dr HARVEY: Sure. My question is to the Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services. Can the minister explain to the house how remotely piloted aircraft systems are being utilised to support our emergency services and what is the future capability across South Australia?

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (14:39): I thank the member for Newland for his very important question and his interest in technology and the future growth of the technology sector here in South Australia. As everyone knows, of course the emergency services have had a very busy start to 2020. While we have seen devastation across South Australia with the bushfires, I can say that at times the resources within our emergency services sector have been put to the test, but that's why it is very important that we do all we can to make sure that our emergency services have the best equipment and the best technology going forward.

Of course, the Marshall Liberal government did commit $9.5 million to increasing the aerial capacity of the CFS aerial fleet, taking it from 17 planes up to 26; also $5.5 million into improving our trucks and making them more roadworthy and making sure they comply with national standards; and $5 million went into the CFS through Project Renew to make sure that the stations that emergency services crews use and work out of are up to scratch and improved, after being neglected for such a long period of time.

It is important that they also have the best safety equipment, and we want to do all we can to make sure that in a time of crisis our emergency services workers are kept as safe as possible. But there are other forms of technology as well that we want to keep an eye on. It was great to be working with the CFS, the SES, the MFS, Surf Life Saving South Australia and SAPOL to make sure that we can protect our volunteers and protect the public in as efficient a way as possible.

I am not talking about the large aerial tankers that we all would have seen on the news, which we got from New South Wales and gave us great support through the recent fires here in South Australia, or the Premier's great work with the federal government as well to make sure that we had some extra support. In fact, one of those large aerial tankers was based here, which was greatly appreciated. And I am not talking about the increased capability with new helmets and breathing apparatus that were provided for the MFS.

What I think is really exciting and where I think the member for Newland is going is that he wants to talk about drones, an amazing technology that has such a great opportunity to be expanded within our emergency services. That is why I was very pleased to be at the first emergency services Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems forum at Lot Fourteen. It was great to have, again, all the agencies there and others from the outside showcasing their current capability, future capabilities, and also to share experiences and collaborate between these agencies.

We know that we need the best technologies within our emergency services communities and we know that we want to do all we can to bring those groups together. The Air Force was also involved and the Army was there as well, and some of the capabilities that they showcased included one little example, where the Army was carrying packs on the side of their belts or their waists, if you like, with tiny little drones that they could flip out and, in the case of an emergency, pop these things into the air. They had two hours of flying time and they could actually feed back pictures and information to assess the situation and make sure that they knew what was going on on the ground. It was fantastic to see this sort of technology and capability.

Mr Odenwalder interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Elizabeth is on two warnings.

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD: As we look at this and we look at our emergency services—and Surf Life Saving SA, of course, have been doing a great job in this area as well—what we have been able to do is actually bring more people, people with big technical experiences, into our emergency services. It is a great way to attract more volunteers.

We know, of course, that at Lot Fourteen the Defence Science and Technology Group and the Australian Institute for Machine Learning, which the Premier has talked about, also spoke at this forum, and some of the things they have on offer are absolutely outstanding. They are looking at taking the remote capability out of drones and having them up in the air thinking for themselves. It is a bit scary to think about, but that's what is happening in South Australia: our emergency services working with these technology agencies—

Members interjecting:

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD: I know those on the other side don't want to hear about it—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! Thank you, minister.

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD: —but we are improving technology here in South Australia and growing jobs for South Australians.

The SPEAKER: The minister's time has expired.

Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login