Liberal Nationals introduce Bill to protect CFA volunteers

The Liberal Nationals have introduced a Bill in the Legislative Council to protect CFA volunteers.

Yesterday, the Liberal Nationals moved an amendment to the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 that aims to safeguard the rights of volunteers.

It aims to counter clauses in the proposed workplace agreement between the State Government and CFA that would hand control of the CFA to the United Firefighters’ Union.

Ms Melina Bath, a member of the upper house Planning and Environment Committee conducting the Inquiry into Fire Season Preparedness, has heard from volunteers across Victoria who are calling for parts of the Andrews Labor Government’s proposed new workplace agreement to be scrapped.

“The Liberal Nationals’ Bill will protect the role of volunteers and ensure they can continue to provide the vital, and often life-saving, services for our communities,” Ms Bath said.

“It will protect members like Brian Brewer, a volunteer with 35 years’ service, from the Warragul CFA Brigade, who I met during the Inquiry. Brian told me that Victoria will be much worse off when it comes to fire preparedness if we do not recognise and protect volunteer roles.”

Many CFA members, including Dumbalk CFA Brigade Strike Team Leader, Rob Auchterlonie, have continued to voice their concerns over the Government’s proposed workplace agreement.

“It is imperative the CFA Act and Volunteer Charter are honoured and not over-ridden by backdoor arrangements,” Mr Auchterlonie said.

“Premier Daniel Andrews is failing volunteer firefighters, trying to let the United Firefighters’ Union take over the CFA – but the Liberal Nationals will not stand for that,” Ms Bath added.

The Liberal Nationals’ Bill will amend the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 to:

  • Recognise the CFA as a volunteer-based organisation;
  • Recognise the authority’s requirement to have regard to the Volunteer Charter and the principles and commitment contained therein;
  • Restrict the authority entering any deed, agreement or arrangement that may adversely affect volunteers and or avoid the application of any Commonwealth or Victorian law.

“The Bill also aims to strengthen the Volunteer Charter signed by the then- Liberal Nationals Government in 2011 that the current Labor Government has since allowed to be weakened,” Ms Bath continued.

“The Liberal Nationals will continue to work to protect our 57,000 hardworking volunteers who protect the lives and property of millions of Victorians. These brave women and men give up their time and risk their lives for us, and the Andrews Labor Government treats them with utter contempt.”