Immediately following the Federal election, the Andrews Labor Government has re-introduced legislation that will break up the CFA.
With an electorate that has fifty CFA Brigades safeguarding lives and property in one of the most fire-prone areas in the world, Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull has condemned the Fire Rescue Victoria legislation.
“Our heart and soul CFA volunteers in East Gippsland and across the Victoria don’t like it at all. When this first came in I was inundated with legitimate concerns and that is why we opposed the legislation first time around,” said Mr Bull.
“And again Mr Andrews has been mischievous in putting the cancer compensation in the same bill that gives the United Firefighters Union control of firefighting operations.
“They could have easily separated these issues and when we tried to introduce a separate bill on the cancer compensation, the same as theirs, they rejected it.
“We support the cancer compensation, but not the break-up of the CFA and they should not be in the same legislation.
The bill seeks to create Fire Rescue Victoria, staffed only by career firefighters. Under the changes, the CFA will become a volunteer-only body, but paid staff will be contracted back to the organisation.
“This is little different to Daniel Andrews’ first plan to merge the CFA and the MFB because the union will still have the power to dictate to volunteers by setting the conditions those staff work under.”
The bill also hands control of the state’s 35 integrated stations to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), sidelining volunteers in those stations and putting the state’s surge capacity at risk.
“In major bushfires, our brigades rely on help from volunteers in those integrated stations to provide extra support,” said Mr Bull.
“We live in one of the most fire-prone parts of the state and without that support, I really worry that we won’t be able to get the help we need in the event of a big fire.”
“Since 2014, the CFA has lost 3534 operational volunteers and local Brigades report to me that our volunteers are also dropping out because they feel undervalued and resent their concerns being so arrogantly dismissed,” said Mr Bull.
“I won’t stop fighting for our CFA volunteers. They don’t deserve to be treated in this way.”