The Andrews Labor Government has confirmed the fears of local volunteers by today reintroducing to Parliament its divisive and flawed legislation to smash up the CFA.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath condemned the move saying Daniel Andrews clearly had been waiting to get the Federal Election out of the way before introducing the bill again.
“This is a terribly sad day for CFA volunteers who have committed years to an organisation in service to the community,” Ms Bath said.
“Daniel Andrews is determined to tear up the CFA and hand control to the United Firefighters Union.
“Labor has again arrogantly introduced a bill which means CFA volunteers who get cancer won’t receive compensation unless the UFU also gains control of firefighting operations in Victoria.
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.
Ms Bath said there is no practical change to Daniel Andrews’ original 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.
Ms Bath said during major bushfires, our brigades rely heavily on surge help from volunteers in integrated stations to provide the necessary support and protect our communities.
“Gippsland is one of the most fire-prone areas in the state, without the support of our volunteers I fear the assistance required in the event of a significant fire will not be available,” said Ms Bath.
Ms Bath said CFA volunteers were the casualties of Labor’s plan to pay back its debt to the UFU which campaigned to get Daniel Andrews into government in 2014.
“Since 2014, the CFA has lost 3534 operational volunteers. Our CFA volunteers are exhausted by the four-year fight they have had with a Premier who arrogantly disregards their concerns.
“Following the past fire season in Gippsland our CFA volunteers clearly demonstrated their abilities and dedication to keeping regional communities safe.
“I won’t stop fighting for our CFA volunteers, they don’t deserve to be treated in this way.”