Local CFA volunteers dumped for city contract

The Erica and District Fire Brigade has had its sixteen-year fire equipment maintenance contract to the Victorian Government owned Thomson Dam terminated.

Last week Melbourne Water told volunteers they were no longer required to do the safety inspections because their contract had been awarded to a Melbourne-based company.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called on the Minister for Water in State Parliament today to direct Melbourne Water to reverse its decision to abandon the CFA volunteers.

“The Thomson Dam is just minutes up the road from Erica and it makes perfect sense for the volunteers to continue to service this contract which has raised over $15,000 for life saving equipment.

“One hundred percent of the revenue generated from the service goes towards the purchase of equipment such as, breathing apparatus, first aid training, firefighting equipment and assisted in purchasing the Walhalla based tanker.

“The brigade has never charged for travel time to visit any of Melbourne Water sites at the Thomson Dam, it only invoices for routine servicing and required replacement of equipment.

“It’s completely nonsensical for the State Government to pay a Melbourne based contractor to travel and perform a job that can be completed locally at far less cost and for a greater community benefit.

“Erica and District CFA brigade have provided an exemplary service, there is no valid reason for the termination of its largest funding stream.

“These CFA volunteers’ turnout to floods, fires, vehicle crashes and lost bushwalkers, it’s not too much to ask for a government agency to continue to engage them for a service required by law and which is performed to a high standard, for a good price.”

Ms Bath said the Andrews Labor Government has a track history in removing local contractors from local organisations in regional communities, which flies in the face of its own ‘Local Jobs First’ procurement policy.

“Once again, the Andrews Government’s callous disregard for our Gippsland based volunteer organisations and businesses is appalling.

“Over the past few years, Daniel Andrews has taken contracts away from locals on multiple occasions preferring to opt for centralised large organisations.

“First it was CFA uniform laundering, then it was Ambulance Victoria uniform laundering and now its the servicing of portable fire equipment.

“I am calling on the Minister for Water to speak with Melbourne Water and ensure that this contract is redirected back to our local volunteers.”