Re­port rec­om­mends CFA re­form re­jec­tion

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS -

Vic­to­ria’s con­tro­ver­sial fire­fight­ing re­forms should be re­jected and the Department of Premier and Cab­i­net in­ves­ti­gated, a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee has found.

The up­per house Com­mit­tee on Fire Ser­vices de­liv­ered its fi­nal re­port into the pro­posed re­struc­ture of the Coun­try Fire Au­thor­ity and Metropoli­tan Fire Brigade on Fri­day.

The re­port, en­dorsed by Coali­tion and Shoot­ers Fish­ers mem­bers, rec­om­mends MPs op­pose the plan to merge all paid fire­fight­ers into a new Fire Res­cue Vic­to­ria with a larger metropoli­tan bound­ary and make the CFA vol­un­teer-only.

It also calls for pre­sump­tive cancer com­pen­sa­tion leg­is­la­tion, which will give fire­fight­ers with spe­cific can­cers a right to a pay­out, to be sep­a­rated from the fire re­form bill.

In to­tal, the com­mit­tee made 10 find­ings and 10 rec­om­men­da­tions.

‘‘We have made these rec­om­men­da­tions be­cause of the lack of cer­tainty around im­ple­men­ta­tion, op­er­a­tions, and fund­ing un­der the pro­posed re­struc­ture; the fail­ure to un­der­take con­sul­ta­tion; and the con­se­quen­tial po­lar­i­sa­tion of fire ser­vices staff and vol­un­teers,’’ com­mit­tee chair­man Gor­don Rich-Phillips said.

Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria Wendy Lovell, who served on the com­mit­tee, said the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion was flawed and lacked proper con­sul­ta­tion with fire ser­vices, and she agreed the bill should be sep­a­rated from pre­sump­tive rights leg­is­la­tion.

‘‘Pre­sump­tive rights com­pen­sa­tion for fire­fight­ers has broad sup­port across the par­lia­ment and should be rein­tro­duced as soon as pos­si­ble to be­come law,’’ Ms Lovell said.

The cancer laws were con­tro­ver­sially in­cluded in the re­struc­ture bill in a gov­ern­ment at­tempt to wedge the op­po­si­tion into vot­ing for it.

The ma­jor­ity re­port also calls for the Department of Premier and Cab­i­net to be in­ves­ti­gated by the priv­i­leges com­mit­tee over al­le­ga­tions of in­ter­fer­ence with the com­mit­tee’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

A dis­sent­ing re­port from La­bor and Green MPs said the gov­ern­ment’s plan should pro­ceed, with ev­i­dence show­ing the cur­rent sys­tem is out of date.

The Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment needs the changes to pass in or­der to break a pay dis­pute that has seen a min­is­ter re­sign, a fire board sacked and fed­eral law changes to pro­tect the role of emer­gency vol­un­teers.

To read the full re­port visit: www.par­lia­ment.vic.gov.au/fire­ser­vices­bill/ ar­ti­cle/3782

Sus­tain­able choice . . . Farm­ers Ge­off Ex­ton of Cos­grove South and Alex Gra­ham of Cos­grove par­tic­i­pated in the drumMUSTER event by drop­ping off con­tain­ers. Pic­tures: Julie Mercer

Un­wanted waste . . . The drums had all kinds of chem­i­cals in them be­fore they were thor­oughly cleaned out on-farm.

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