CFA volunteers receive another slap in the face
The Andrews Labor Government is trying to force through legislation that would split apart the CFA and create a new stand-alone fire agency Fire Rescue Victoria. With the Bill only presented to Parliament on Wednesday, Labor used its numbers to force through a vote on Thursday. This allowed no sufficient time for consultation with the CFA volunteers who protect our community or the many others affected.
State Liberal Member for Eildon Cindy McLeish said the legislation was another slap in the face to thousands of Victoria’s volunteer firefighters with parliamentarians being given no time to scrutinise the new regime and consult with local communities.
Speaking in the Victorian Parliament Ms McLeish labelled the government’s attempt to pass the bill in the Lower House within three days as a disgrace.
“This is very, very poor practice, it is poor government and it shows an absolute arrogance and a lack of respect for the processes that have been in existence for a very long time. Not only does it show a lack of respect for the process and the parliamentary system but it also shows a lack of respect for those that are impacted by this bill.”
“Since Daniel Andrews was elected in 2014 we have seen more than 3,500 volunteers leave the CFA. We need these thousands of volunteers to protect our homes, families and communities every day.”
“I am very concerned about what this bill is going to do to erode not just the confidence in the CFA but the ability for them to carry out their work as best they can. Their spirits at the moment are particularly low, and I am again disturbed to see the number of people that I speak to that come and seek me out to talk about their fears for the future of volunteerism in the CFA as time progresses,” Ms McLeish said.
Ms McLeish also called on the Minister for Emergency Services to announce the outcome of volunteer grants that would help support local CFA brigades.
The government’s Enhancing Volunteerism Grants Program closed in June last year, but after nearly 12 months waiting, local brigades are yet to know the outcome of their applications.
“We know that CFA District budgets are under great strain and it is becoming more difficult for many brigades across the state to replace basic firefighting equipment like burst hoses.”
“The CFA volunteers in my electorate are very concerned about why these grants have taken so long to announce especially when funding was being provided to ‘address immediate needs’,” Ms McLeish said.