MPs check in with emer­gency groups

Campaspe News - - NEWS - By STEPHANIE HOR­TON

ON SUN­DAY, state shadow emer­gency ser­vices min­is­ter Brad Bat­tin vis­ited the area on his tour of Vic­to­ria along with mem­ber for Mur­ray Plains Peter Walsh.

The vis­its to Echuca Fire Bri­gade and Rochester SES and CFA were a part of the Lib­er­als’ and Na­tion­als’ con­sul­ta­tion with vol­un­teers about the Fire Ser­vices Re­form, a hot topic in state gov­ern­ment.

The Lib­er­als and Na­tion­als are push­ing for a royal com­mis­sion into Vic­to­ria’s fire ser­vices.

The royal com­mis­sion, ex­pected to cost tax­pay­ers $10 mil­lion, would be com­pleted within a year of the op­po­si­tion be­ing elected at the next state poll.

Ac­cord­ing to the draft terms of ref­er­ence, ob­tained by Cam­paspe News, the royal com­mis­sion will in­quire and re­port on 11 dif­fer­ent ar­eas, in­clud­ing the res­ig­na­tions or dis­missals of lead­ing mem­bers of the CFA and MFB.

It will also look into the dis­missal of for­mer Emer­gency Ser­vices Min­is­ter Jane Gar­rett.

Other ar­eas to be cov­ered in­clude bul­ly­ing, op­er­a­tional in­ter­fer­ence, con­sul­ta­tion with vol­un­teers and the ef­fect of the cur­rent en­ter­prise bar­gain­ing agree­ment.

The con­sul­ta­tion in Rochester was at­tended by mem­bers of the SES and CFA, and the morale of the agen­cies was raised as the big­gest is­sue.

Some ideas in­cluded vol­un­teers be­ing on an in­ter­view panel for a new op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer in their catch­ment and a sin­gle fire ser­vice in­clud­ing the MFB.

The mem­bers also spoke about the is­sues they had, which in­cluded there be­ing no con­sul­ta­tion with vol­un­teers from ca­reer staff.

Mr Bat­tin has vis­ited var­i­ous ar­eas across the west of the state, where the key mes­sages he re­ceived were about train­ing of vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers, the age of some trucks and ac­cess to turn-out gear.

The visit to the SES fa­cil­ity in Rochester al­lowed Mr Bat­tin to in­spect their new storm truck.

The truck was funded through the Vol­un­teer Emer­gency Ser­vices Equip­ment Pro­gram grant, which is an on­go­ing pro­gram funded by the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment.

It gives lo­cal emer­gency ser­vice vol­un­teer groups ac­cess to grants for op­er­a­tional equip­ment, ve­hi­cles, trucks, tankers, wa­ter­craft, trailers and mi­nor fa­cil­ity im­prove­ments.

The grant for the storm truck cov­ered two thirds of the to­tal cost, with the SES unit fund­ing the bal­ance with funds re­ceived from lo­cal do­na­tions.

Up­grad­ing ve­hi­cles is al­ways a pri­or­ity to en­sure the ve­hi­cles avail­able for re­sponse are fit for pur­pose.

The new storm truck re­places what was a four-wheel drive and trailer.

State shadow emer­gency ser­vices min­is­ter Brad Bat­tin, above and below, vis­ited Rochester CFA and SES mem­bers on Sun­day.

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