The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath says it is astounding Daniel Andrews has completely disregarded volunteers’ concerns with a proposed CFA EBA, after damning evidence was provided to a parliamentary inquiry this week.
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) holds grave concerns the proposed CFA EBA will ’dismantle’ the organisation and is a ‘recipe for disaster’ if pushed through.
Ms Bath, said emotions ran high during this week’s public hearings in the Inquiry into Fire Season Preparedness, on which she is a committee member, as the VFBV expressed concerns ‘volunteers could walk’ over the EBA.
“Daniel Andrews claimed he fixed this situation yet here we are with the fire season drawing near and our fire services have never been more of a mess with the morale of all parties severely affected by these negotiations,” Ms Bath said.
During the hearing Ms Bath asked how the proposed EBA would affect the current chain of command on the fire ground. VFVB chief executive Andrew Ford replied the EBA threatened the working relationship of volunteers and paid staff and would create confusion, disjoin the single chain of command and intersperse an industrial agreement. He described it as a “recipe for disaster”.
“The committee heard about the surge capacity of volunteers from regional Victoria – it was vital in the response to the devastating Black Saturday fires,” Ms Bath said.
“My fear is that this EBA could possibly affect Victoria’s surge capacity.
“In major fire events often 99 per cent of personnel on the ground are volunteers; my fear is this EBA could put Victorian communities at risk.
“I have spoken with many of Gippsland’s volunteer fire fighters and it’s in their DNA to protect lives and community – it’s time the Andrews Government supported these hard working men and women rather than creating this mess.”