Hitch for radio network plans

THE process for establishing a whole-of-government radio communications network had largely ignored agencies' key concerns, the Tasmanian Audit Office has found.

The Auditor-General's Government Radio Communications report was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

Findings include the fact that some agencies cannot communicate easily by radio with each other because of incompatible systems, as the 2013 Tasmanian Bushfires Inquiry Report found.

Auditor-General Mike Blake made 11 recommendations, noting that the project had taken eight years so far, with little progress.

He said the delay for such a project was very unusual, but one reason might have been because the process had not addressed the needs of all users.

Recommendations include the establishment of an independent project team and a separate unit to implement and operate the network if little further progress is made.

The police union welcomed the report and hoped there would be change, but leader Pat Allen said the association was not holding its breath after 20 years of blame, stalling tactics and delays in attempts to improve the police radio network.

"If you want things to happen, remove it from any government agency and government control to make things happen," Mr Allen said.

"Police officers' safety and community safety is being put at risk."

Tasmania Police is reviewing the Auditor-General's recommendations into the whole-of- government radio network project.

Deputy Commissioner Scott Tilyard said the emergency services had a strong commitment to be part of one whole-of- government network.

The Tasmanian Audit Office found security and confidentiality problems with emergency services radio networks:

- People can buy scanners and listen to emergency services broadcasts. Websites exist that list network frequencies and provide live feeds.

- To optimise coverage, the Police/Tasmanian Electricity Supply Industry network operates in analogue for all dispatch calls, which enables outsiders to scan most police transmissions.

- Forestry Tasmania has used scramblers during forest protests because of concerns that conservationists were monitoring its transmissions.

- Tasmania Fire Service, Ambulance Tasmania and the State Emergency Service use 70 MHz analogue networks and would prefer more security and confidentiality for certain incidents.


Email: ctang@examiner.com.au

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