Emergency Services Volunteers | February 09, 2017

Kealy - Sharp drop in CFA volunteers revealed

The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy MP has said the Liberal-Nationals’ move to amend the CFA Act in Parliament this week aimed to protect the rights of volunteers currently under siege by the Andrews Labor Government.

It came as a Productivity Commission Report revealed there are 2,400 less CFA volunteers protecting communities now, than in June 2014, and that State Emergency Service (SES) funding had been cut by $1.25 million.

“I have no doubt that this 6.9% reduction in volunteer firefighters in just over two years is driven, at least in part, by the current dispute,” Ms Kealy said.

“I am disappointed in the Productivity Commission’s findings, but I am not surprised. I have heard first-hand that volunteer firefighters would leave the CFA because of the dispute.

“Premier Daniel Andrews declared that the dispute over the EBA had come to an end in June last year, but this was clearly premature.

“Seven months on, we’ve had senior personnel resign, allegations of bullying, a Senate Committee inquiry, a Commonwealth bill amending the Fair Work Act, and civil litigation in the Supreme Court challenging the EBA.

“And now, volunteer member numbers are declining and prospective members have little incentive to join,” she said.

In the Legislative Council on Wednesday, the Liberal Nationals moved an amendment to the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 that aims to protect the rights of volunteers who are currently under siege by the Andrews Labor Government.

The bill will amend the Country Fire Authority Act 1958 to:

  • Recognise the CFA as a volunteer-based organisation;
  • Recognise the authority’s requirement to have regard to the Volunteer Charter and the principles and commitment contained therein;
  • Restrict the authority entering any deed, agreement or arrangement that may adversely affect volunteers and or avoid the application of any Commonwealth or Victorian law.

“This Bill aims to strengthen the Volunteer Charter signed by the former Liberal Nationals Government in 2011 and that the current Labor Government has allowed to be weakened,” Ms Kealy said.

“Our CFA volunteers provide a vital service in protecting our local communities and the Labor Government should be doing everything it can to encourage more people to join. Instead they are creating an environment that does the opposite,” she said.

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