Firies’ compo in talks

Western Times - - NEWS - By SHERELE MOODY

THE State Gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to ne­go­ti­ate with Charleville’s vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers about a con­tro­ver­sial can­cer com­pen­sa­tion clause.

The re­gion’s un­paid firies want the gov­ern­ment to re­think a pro­posed amend­ment to amend­ment to the Work­ers’ Com­pen­sa­tion Act that re­quires them to at­tend 150 events – such as fires or floods – over five years be­fore they are el­i­gi­ble for com­pen­sa­tion for dor­mant or hid­den dis­eases like can­cer.

The amend­ment was in­tro­duced to par­lia­ment last month. By con­trast paid fire­fight­ers must at­tend just one event in a min­i­mum qual­i­fy­ing pe­riod to be el­i­gi­ble.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment says the pro­posed el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria for paid fire­fight­ers does not re­late to event at­ten­dance but that it is a time mea­sure.

The vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers be­lieve the amend­ment is dis­crim­i­na­tory.

Em­ploy­ment and In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Curtis Pitt con­firmed the gov­ern­ment would con­sider all sug­ges­tions put for­ward dur­ing the public con­sul­ta­tion phase which ended on Mon­day.

A public hear­ing into the is­sue will be held to­day, Au­gust 13.

Ru­ral Fire Brigade As­so­ci­a­tion Queens­land, which rep­re­sents the state’s 36,000 vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers, said the gov­ern­ment must treat all firies the same.

“The ap­pro­pri­ate num­ber is one (event) in the sched­ule pe­riod – one for full­time (fire­fight­ers), one for part-time (and) one for vol­un­teers,” RFBAQ gen­eral man­ager Justin Choveaux said.

Op­po­si­tion leader Lawrence Spring­borg de­scribed the 150 events quota as “ridicu­lous”.



DIF­FER­ENT RULES: Ru­ral firies like these Ri­p­ley Val­ley fire­fight­ers might not be com­pen­sated for some work-re­lated ill­ness, un­less they fight 150 fires— while their pro­fes­sional coun­ter­parts will.

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