After four years of relentless attacks against the CFA’s tens of thousands of volunteers, Daniel Andrews has rammed legislation that rips apart the CFA through the Lower House of Parliament, putting the lives and safety of Victorians at risk.
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.
In just five years under Labor the CFA has lost 3 749 operational volunteers; this is 9.8 per cent of operational volunteers who have walked away during Daniel Andrews’ relentless war on the CFA.
CFA volunteers have been driven away by Daniel Andrews’ constant attacks on them, as the Premier does the bidding of the militant United Firefighters Union (UFU) and its boss, Peter Marshall.
The CFA has already admitted that a lack of volunteer numbers has damaged its ability to undertake planned burning. Labor’s attack on the CFA by giving the United Firefighters Union more control over the CFA will place Victorians at risk in the event of another Black Saturday or Ash Wednesday bushfire scenario.
This Bill will place a Berlin wall in our integrated CFA stations, separating career firefighters from volunteers, and reducing volunteer firefighters to second class citizens. The more volunteers we lose, the more surge capacity we will lose. That places us all in danger; a fact acknowledged by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.
The Liberal Nationals support equal presumptive rights for all firefighters diagnosed with cancer. We sought to legislate it in the last Parliament, but we were blocked by Labor. We sought to legislate it in this Parliament, but again we were blocked by Labor. We sought to split Labor’s Bill, cynically tying presumptive rights on cancer with attacking the CFA, but again Labor refused.
If Labor’s Bill to destroy the CFA as we know it to passes the Parliament, it will make our community less safe.
That is why the Liberal Nationals will not support it.
Michael O'Brien MP Brad Battin MP
Leader of the Opposition Shadow Minister for Emergency Services