The Nationals pledge to make CFA autonomous
The Nationals in government will legislate to rebuild and restore the Country Fire Authority (CFA) as an independent, volunteer-based autonomous fire service.
Gippsland Nationals Members Danny O’Brien, Member for Gippsland South and Melina Bath, Member for Eastern Victoria say this pledge will reverse moves by the Andrews Labor Government, which has let CFA volunteers down again by pushing through contentious changes to the state’s firefighting services.
The Nationals have also promised to establish a Volunteer Commissioner to independently hear and arbitrate on disputes.
Mr O’Brien said The Nationals in government will work with volunteers and brigades across the state to rebuild and restore the CFA.
“This will include repealing provisions of Labor’s disastrous legislation which undermines the capacity of the CFA to function as an independent, autonomous fire service and enshrining in law the power for the CFA to select, recruit and manage its own staff,” Mr O’Brien said.
“We will also ensure that CFA staff wear the CFA uniform and we will require the CFA board to sign up to the Volunteers’ Charter, which was legislated in 2012.
“The charter was designed to protect the rights of volunteers, but the board is not bound by it and the experience of the past five years has shown that this Labor Government just sacks anyone who gets in their way.”
Ms Bath said she was deeply concerned for the future of CFA under Labor.
“Daniel Andrews is tearing the CFA apart and paving the way for Peter Marshall and the United Firefighters Union (UFU) to take over the CFA,” Ms Bath said.
“As of today, July 1, Labor has effectively handed control of the CFA to the UFU. We will not stand for that.
“All CFA staff will now be seconded from the new Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), sidelining the CFA’s chief fire officer and silencing volunteers – and to really twist the knife the UFU will have the ultimate say who fills those positions through a panel dominated by UFU members.”
Mr O’Brien said Daniel Andrews was happy to praise CFA volunteers when they were in the public eye and represented a great photo op, but he sold them out as soon as the glare of the cameras disappeared.
“Labor is treating our volunteers like second class citizens. If The Nationals are elected in 2022, that will change.”
Earlier this month, VFBV Chief Executive, Adam Barnett penned a strongly worded email to volunteers expressing escalating concerns for the growing indifference they were receiving from the Andrews Labor Government in response to queries they have raised.
Mr Barnett advised they have been met with a “wall of silence” from the Labor Party who had shown blatant disregard for legislation which required that they consult volunteers over any changes which impact them.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said CFA volunteers had been pushed out by a militant union and a Premier who doesn’t have their back.
“Country Victorians want to see the CFA reinstated and we will do just that,” Mr Walsh said.