Michelle Lensink

Government Radio Networking

Can the minister assure the council that the backup batteries and backup generators, where relevant, for both the Government Radio Network and Telstra mobile phone towers have been checked since the September storms and are fully operational?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:42): My question is to the Minister for Emergency Services.
Can the minister assure the council that the backup batteries and backup generators, where relevant,
for both the Government Radio Network and Telstra mobile phone towers have been checked since
the September storms and are fully operational?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services,
Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:42):
Unfortunately, the party of
the opposition, the conservatives, privatised Telstra as a corporation some time ago, so what
happens with Telstra towers is not within the remit of—
The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink: So, you don't check?
The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS:
No; the government does not own or operate Telstra towers.
In respect to the Government Radio Network, that is absolutely within the remit of government and I
am really pleased to report that during the course of significant weather events throughout the course
of this winter—including the major storm event that we now know is probably one of the most
significant storm events that this state has seen for generations—during the course of that event, the
South Australian Government Radio Network performed exceedingly well. The Government Radio
Network does have redundancy and backups in respect to battery power in the event that there are
power failures. Those backups worked incredibly well.
Clearly, if there is a sustained blackout for periods that go beyond 24 hours, that presents a
problem for the Government Radio Network, but the redundancies that were in place worked
effectively, and I really want to pay a lot of credit to Mark Hanson and his team within the
Attorney-General's Department and all those who were involved in the operation of the Government
Radio Network and the backup procedures during the course of that event.
They did an outstanding job and I really do want to pay them credit. We all know that the
Government Radio Network is a really important piece of infrastructure in the event of emergencies,
and on this occasion it performed well, and I think that those who were behind the scenes are names
that do not really get a mention in this place. They are not uniformed staff so they do not get the
kudos that many of our uniformed officials do, but they really did do a good job on this occasion and
I just want to give them my honest praise and thanks.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:44): Supplementary: what measures have the minister and
his government taken to check whether the battery storages would be adequate if there were to be
another event and, in particular, what measures has he taken to ensure that the events on the Eyre
Peninsula, where they were unable to use the 000 service, will not happen again?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services,
Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:45):
I thank the honourable
member for her question and appreciate her asking it because it is a genuinely important one,
particularly around that issue of the 000 service. I want to be very clear about this: the 000 service
throughout the state, including the Eyre Peninsula, throughout that event was fully operational.
Where there was an issue was whether or not people had access to outbound calling systems. Triple
zero was fully operational; the only thing that would restrict someone from being able to get access
to 000 is if they themselves didn't have a mechanism to call in.
So, if their mobile phone wasn't working, for instance, they wouldn't be able to call in to 000,
but in terms of being able to receive the 000 calls, that was fully operational throughout the event. I
understand that, during the course of the event, there was a message that went out regarding 000
that may not have best communicated that concern that existed. In respect to your question about
what the government is doing about the Government Radio Network: the most significant thing is
investing over $150 million—in fact, from memory I think it is $154 million—into upgrading the
Government Radio Network. That is a really substantial investment on behalf of the government to
make sure that the GRN remains a world leader.
The GRN in this state gets a lot of attention, and that is understandable, considering how
important a piece of infrastructure it is. However, in many respects, we are the envy of other
jurisdictions around the country, as we have all our emergency services able to simultaneously use
a single government radio network. That is something that operates seamlessly between our
professional emergency service workers, but also our voluntary emergency service workers, and it
is something that is the envy of other jurisdictions around the country. We are continuing to upgrade
it, hence the $150 million investment.
It is not perfect, there is always room for improvement, but that is what we have to strive for
in emergency services: continuous improvement. We will never be perfect; we have to make sure
we are continuously improving and making substantial investments like the one we are making into
the GRN—that is very much part of that.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:44): Supplementary: what measures have the minister and
his government taken to check whether the battery storages would be adequate if there were to be
another event and, in particular, what measures has he taken to ensure that the events on the Eyre
Peninsula, where they were unable to use the 000 service, will not happen again?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services,
Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:45):
I thank the honourable
member for her question and appreciate her asking it because it is a genuinely important one,
particularly around that issue of the 000 service. I want to be very clear about this: the 000 service
throughout the state, including the Eyre Peninsula, throughout that event was fully operational.
Where there was an issue was whether or not people had access to outbound calling systems. Triple
zero was fully operational; the only thing that would restrict someone from being able to get access
to 000 is if they themselves didn't have a mechanism to call in.
So, if their mobile phone wasn't working, for instance, they wouldn't be able to call in to 000,
but in terms of being able to receive the 000 calls, that was fully operational throughout the event. I
understand that, during the course of the event, there was a message that went out regarding 000
that may not have best communicated that concern that existed. In respect to your question about
what the government is doing about the Government Radio Network: the most significant thing is
investing over $150 million—in fact, from memory I think it is $154 million—into upgrading the
Government Radio Network. That is a really substantial investment on behalf of the government to
make sure that the GRN remains a world leader.
The GRN in this state gets a lot of attention, and that is understandable, considering how
important a piece of infrastructure it is. However, in many respects, we are the envy of other
jurisdictions around the country, as we have all our emergency services able to simultaneously use
a single government radio network. That is something that operates seamlessly between our
professional emergency service workers, but also our voluntary emergency service workers, and it
is something that is the envy of other jurisdictions around the country. We are continuing to upgrade
it, hence the $150 million investment.
It is not perfect, there is always room for improvement, but that is what we have to strive for
in emergency services: continuous improvement. We will never be perfect; we have to make sure
we are continuously improving and making substantial investments like the one we are making into
the GRN—that is very much part of that.

 

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