Fire service Royal Commission vital

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath says a new plan for a Royal Commission in Victoria’s fire services will restore the confidence of local communities and the region’s CFA volunteers.

The policy, announced this week by Opposition Leader Matthew Guy and Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh, will take the politics out of the bitter dispute over Victoria’s fire services.

“The pledge for a Royal Commission is about ensuring we protect those who protect us,” Ms Bath said.

“Many local volunteers have told me that they feel there is no longer any one left to stand up for them and to represent their interests.”

“In the past year both the CFA and MFB boards have been replaced, resulting in more than 100 years of collective experience being lost.”

“Serious allegations of bullying, intimidation, sexual harassment and discrimination within Victoria’s fire services have been brought to light in a series of reports, but completely overlooked by the Andrews Labor Government.”

Ms Bath said the ongoing dispute over the CFA and MFB’s enterprise bargaining agreements had led to concerns about operational effectiveness.

“The implications the EBA has on community safety, along with the process and conduct of these negotiations, will be a key area of investigation by the Royal Commission.”

Ms Bath said there was serious concern amongst her communities that Daniel Andrews had politicised Victoria’s fire services.

“A Royal Commission which is completely independent of government is now vital and urgent.”

“There have been a number of previous attempts at reform for our fire services, as well as attempts to fix cultural and operational problems but nothing has worked.”

“A Royal Commission will be able to critically examine the issues our fire services are facing and come up with evidence-based solutions,” Ms Bath concluded.