Fire ser­vices leg­is­la­tion still bogged down

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS - By Alana Chris­tensen

A sole MP could be the key to see­ing CFA leg­is­la­tion passed, with ma­jor par­ties an­nounc­ing their plans to block the leg­is­la­tion from pass­ing par­lia­ment.

Key cross­bencher and Vote 1 Lo­cal Jobs MP James Pur­cell could be the key to the suc­cess or fail­ure of the leg­is­la­tion, as the An­drews Gov­ern­ment seeks to amend the con­tro­ver­sial Fire Ser­vices Bill, which would see the cre­ation of Fire Ser­vices Vic­to­ria and the CFA trans­formed into a vol­un­teer-only or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Pre­mier Daniel An­drews said the gov­ern­ment would look closely at the rec­om­men­da­tions from the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee, which said the bill in its cur­rent form should be with­drawn or voted down by the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil.

The re­struc­ture is at­tached to widely-sup­ported pre­sump­tive rights cancer com­pen­sa­tion, and Mr An­drews said the two is­sues would not be split be­cause the re­forms were a pack­age.

Cos­grove Pine Lodge CFA cap­tain Ross Harmer said while he couldn’t see any is­sues with the bill pass­ing in its cur­rent form, he was un­sure of fu­ture im­pli­ca­tions.

‘‘While (the cur­rent paid fire­fight­ers) are here they’re look­ing af­ter us,’’ Mr Harmer said.

‘‘The only pos­si­ble way we might have is­sues is if we have peo­ple come up from Mel­bourne who aren’t fa­mil­iar with our struc­ture out here.’’

CFA Dis­trict 22 op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer Travis Har­ris said it was dif­fi­cult to keep up with the bill changes.

‘‘There’s def­i­nitely un­cer­tainty be­cause it’s just changed too many times,’’ he said.

‘‘For us it’s just busi­ness as usual, I per­son­ally can’t see any­thing chang­ing.

‘‘We’re strong and re­silient here; what­ever the out­comes I don’t think it will af­fect us at all.

‘‘Any­thing else can hap­pen in the back­ground but we’re still fo­cused on giv­ing 100 per cent to the com­mu­nity.’’

The bill has reached a dead­lock in the up­per house, af­ter a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­gat­ing the changes fin­ished its in­quiry di­vided along party lines.

The Greens and Sex Party sup­port the changes, but the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party, con­ser­va­tives and op­po­si­tion do not.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Matthew Guy said it was time to call it quits on the re­form.

‘‘The bill is a dud, the bill ap­pears dead, the gov­ern­ment ei­ther needs to with­draw the bill and take it to the next elec­tion or put it to the par­lia­ment and have it voted on,’’ Mr Guy said.

‘‘But enough of the games, enough of the politi­ci­sa­tion of our CFA, this has all got to end.’’

The gov­ern­ment needs the changes to pass in or­der to break a pay dis­pute dur­ing which a min­is­ter has re­signed, a fire board was sacked and fed­eral law changes were in­tro­duced to pro­tect the role of emer­gency vol­un­teers.

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