Member of Lions Club – State Parliament
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said he holds concerns for Country Fire Authority (CFA) volunteer numbers with reforms that were being forced on the organisation by Premier Daniel Andrews.
“There are already just on 5,000 fewer volunteers since Andrews came to power six years ago and we now have a case where many long serving volunteers, including CFA captains, have announced they were resigning this week,” he said.
Mr Bull said he had heard from a number of respected and long serving volunteers.
“At the top of their long list of concerns is that what was promised is not going to occur, including administration staff for the CFA having to be seconded from the newly established Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), which many believed does not make the CFA its own stand alone volunteer organisation as was assured.
“On top of this, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) has said Daniel Andrews has shown no regard for legislation which requires consultation with volunteers over any changes which impact them.
“In a strongly worded email to volunteers earlier this month, VFBV chief executive Adam Barnett said the Andrews Government had broken its promises to volunteers.
“The resignation of the CFA chief officer, Steve Warrington last week, for refusing to sign up to the deal, rings further alarm bells. When you look at the list of people who have been forced out by Daniel Andrews as a result of objecting to this reform, how anyone can say it is not of major concern is beyond me. It includes:
• Former Minister, Jane Garrett;
• Former CFA Board: Claire Higgins, John Peberdy, Ross Coyle, Katherine Forrest, Michael Freshwater, James Holyman, John Schurink, Michael Tudball, Samantha Hunter, Peter Harmsworth AO;
• Former CFA Chief Officer, Joe Buffone;
• Former CFA Deputy Chief Officer, Bruce Byatt;
• Former CFA CEO, Lucinda Nolan;
• Former CFA CEO, Frances Diver;
• Former CFA CEO, Paul Smith;
• Former MFB Chief Officer, Peter Rau;
• Former MFB Deputy Chief Officer, David Youssef;
• Former MFB CEO; Jim Higgins; and
• Former CFA CEO & Chief Officer, Steve Warrington.
“Among the major concerns of local CFA members is the potential loss of volunteers in the suburbs and urban areas as these volunteers have traditionally provided ‘surge capacity’ to support our local brigades in times of major fires.
“It is these volunteers who would get on a truck and be part of a strike team that would come to our region. This summer just gone the CFA said it could not raise the strike teams it wanted from metro areas and if metro volunteer numbers continue to dwindle this will only get worse, leaving us without the resources we have had in summer in the past,” said Mr Bull.
“It’s another classic example of Daniel Andrews being beholden to his union mates and ignoring the needs of rural and regional Victoria.”